A campaign by a regional daily to bring a poorly toddler home from hospital has been successful in just six weeks thanks to the generosity of its readers.
The Coventry Telegraph launched its Help Make a Home for Eleana campaign last month to help transform the family home of Eleana Hastings, who was the smallest baby in Britain to undergo open heart surgery.
The paper called on its readers to donate time and equipment so that vital adaptations to the family home could be made to allow her home for the first time, although she will still need round-the-clock medical care.
Within hours of the launch, donations of cash, materials and labour flooded in to the paper and the home has now been transformed, allowing Eleana to live there at last after spending most of her life in hospital.
News editor Steve Williams said: “This has been a tremendous campaign which has really touched people’s hearts. We’re delighted to have played a part in reuniting the Hastings family, and wish them well for the future.”
Mum Francesca said: “We would never have been able to achieve this in such a short space of time without everyone’s help. It amazes me how much people put themselves out for us and I do feel as though we have been blessed.
“I don’t know why everyone wanted to help us so much – they didn’t have to do it – but for what ever reason Eleana struck a chord with everyone and they wanted to help.
“It was lovely to see so many people working together, going above and beyond what was expected of them, and it is incredible what they have created.
“Whether people gave £1 or £10 or donated a kitchen or bathroom, it has just been magnificent and we can’t thank people enough.”
The family’s refurbished house now boasts a new kitchen, two fitted bathrooms, decorated living room and bedrooms and two new-look gardens.
Eleana underwent open heart surgery at just nine days old when she weighed only 3lb 5oz, after she was born six weeks prematurely with a large hole in her heart and a missing valve.
Since then, her mum has lived next door to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in Ronald McDonald House, a residential unit for families with children in hospital, while dad Darren cared for their three other children, Alfie, Imogen and Jamie, at home in Coventry during week days.
This meant the family was only been able to spend time together at weekends and school holidays when they all lived at McDonald House.