A caring mum is asking people to dig deep and make this a summer to remember for some very special youngsters.
Arlene Wond is the round-the-clock carer for her daughter Ashleigh.
The 13-year-old Carrongrange School pupil was born with complex medical conditions and is unable to talk or eat like other youngsters her age.
Ashleigh receives the nutrients which keep her alive through a central line in her chest.
But this makes her very vulnerable to infection and Arlene (35), along with partner David Coleman (39), were unable to enjoy holidays or even a night away, as the devoted mum has to set up and monitor the specialised feeding which takes 12 hours to complete.
Then doctors at Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital, who look after Ashleigh, referred them to Rachel House, the Kinross facility run by CHAS, the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland.
Arlene, of Larbert, said: “It’s been a total godsend. We couldn’t get respite anywhere else because of her complex needs but Rachel House has sent its staff for special training so they can take over her care.
“Ashleigh loves her breaks at Rachel House and so do I. She loves playing on the laptop and a tumble in the soft play area. She also enjoys being surrounded by people.
“I go along too, because if I stayed at home then I would just do housework. But it’s great to go and feel like you’re part of one big family.
“Ashleigh can’t do things, such as swimming, that other children do because of the infection risk, so this is just a wonderful opportunity for her – and for us.”
Now Arlene, who is also mum to Kirsty (17), is doing her bit to raise money for CHAS.
She and Ashleigh are fronting the annual summer fundraising campaign and a letter from her, detailing how much Rachel House helps their family, is being sent out to 6000 people who have previously supported the charity.
Arlene said: “I don’t know what I’d do if we hadn’t found Rachel House. It’s a happy but sad place, because some of the families who go do experience tragedy. However, I can’t praise the care the staff provide enough.
“We were recently able to have our first holiday in six years when we went out to see my dad in Quatar. It was difficult to leave Ashleigh but the staff at Rachel House reassured me by training an extra 15 staff to deal with her central line, which was just amazing.
“However, it was amazing to see her face when we came back. Without CHAS I’d never have experienced that.”
Last year’s summer fundraiser brought in £20,000, now Arlene, Ashleigh and everyone involved with CHAS hope that even more will be donated in the coming months.
CHAS spokeswoman Anna Jackson said: “We need £6 million every year to run Rachel House, Robin House in Balloch and our CHAS at Home service.”
Visit www.chas.org.uk for details of how to make a donation.