Southern rail staff raise thousands for Chestnut Tree House children's hospice

Rail staff in the south are continuing to support Chestnut Tree House children's hospice, with a further £6,176 being presented just before Christmas.

Drivers, engineers, station and office staff voted for the hospice to be the rail operator’s corporate charity for the south in the annual staff survey.

The hospice was nominated by Keith Hills, on-board supervisor manager at Barnham, as it cared for the granddaughter of Worthing station sales clerk Nigel Thorne five years ago.

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Andy Bindon, human resources director at Govia Thameslink Railway, which owns Southern, presented the cheque to Chestnut Tree House corporate fundraisers Mikayla Bernstein and Alison Taylor at the hospice in Poling.

Andy Bindon presents the cheque to Mikayla Bernstein, left, and Alison Taylor at Chestnut Tree House children's hospice

After making his nomination last autumn, Keith said: “My heart goes out to the children at the hospice, and their families. I have been blessed with healthy children but seen first-hand how difficult it is when your child becomes so ill. I hope that we as a business can ease their pain with support over the next year.”

Nigel said Chestnut Tree House had been a great support to his family at a difficult time.

“Iona-May was born nine weeks prematurely and was quadriplegic, blind and had cerebral palsy, ” he explained.

“At ten days old, we were told that she had only 72 hours left and so brought her back from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London to Worthing Hospital so that she was closer to the family. While at Worthing Hospital, we were introduced to Chestnut Tree House and this charity very quickly became part of the family.

“Once we were back in Worthing, Iona-May carried on fighting, with Chestnut offering respite care for mum Vicki, as well as hydrotherapy support, days out for the family and walks through the woods - something she really enjoyed because of the noises the rustling leaves made.”

Despite the prognosis, Iona-May made it to her seventh birthday.

Nigel added: “She really was the light of our lives and I cannot thank Chestnut enough for all the support.”