Amelie Kessels from Narberth, Pembrokeshire, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2017, when she was aged just ten.
A year of intensive treatment followed, with the family spending a great deal of time at the Children’s Hospital for Wales until Amelie got to ring the End of Treatment Bell in April 2018.
Throughout Amelie’s treatment journey and the upheaval faced by the family, support was provided by a number of charities including LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity, which helped the family stay close together on-site at the Children’s Hospital, offering help with LATCH grants, and providing all-important Art Therapy classes with Pod Claire who became a pillar of support to Amelie and her brother, Hugo.
Together, Amelie, Hugo and Pod created all manner of beautiful artworks including spray paintings, jewellery, lanterns, a driftwood mirror, pyrography pieces and mosaics which helped Amelie to earn a coveted Gold Blue Peter Badge. This Art Therapy proved to be especially important to Amelie who looked forward to every visit from Pod and provided some essential calm, support and friendship among the storm.
Amelie and her family have also benefited greatly from the support of, Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity, Velindre, Glangwilli, Withybush, Future Fertility Trust, Kids Cancer Charity, Beads of Courage, Leukaemia Trust, Starlight, the Little Princess Trust, Dreams & Wishes, WATCH, End of Treatment Bells, Clic Sargent, Willberry the Wonder Pony and found the outpouring of solidarity both overwhelming and humbling, vowing to give back in some way when the time was right.
Unbeknown to the various charities offering support during the family’s difficult time, Amelie’s family, friends and even strangers in the local community (and across the world) began showing their support for Amelie by fundraising in her name. Events that took place include coffee mornings, abseiling, skydives, a singathon, sponsored silences, a concert, open garden, sponsored 50 mile walks, sponsored beard and moustache growing during Movember, a go fund me page and a rowathon.
The fundraising efforts did so much better than anyone could have wished for, which spurred Amelie and her family to come up with the idea of starting a charitable fund themselves which could administer donations to all of the charities that have helped them along the way, and Amelie’s Rainbow came to life quietly in the background.
To celebrate two years post-surgery, a ball was held at The Plas Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth on 6th April 2019, which raised £8,000, at this point Amelie’s Rainbow, had an enormous grand total of £43,000 having been raised.
LATCH, who have been made recipients of the first financial award, have been humbled by a donation of £10,000, with the other charities set to benefit shortly. The family intend to continue to fundraise and to help other children like Amelie directly, providing support for uplifting experiences such as pamper days or days out at theme parks for children and their friends.
Amelie commented: “I’m so grateful to the many charities that have helped my family and me in so many ways, over the past two years. A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect one person, and all of the charities that have helped me have stood out because of their support for my entire family too. I hope that in setting up Amelie’s Rainbow, we can ensure other families like ours receive the same support we did, for which we’ll be forever grateful.”
Mum, Lisa Kessels, commented: “Now that a year has gone by, we all felt it was the right time to begin thanking the charities that have helped us when it seemed the world was really against us. I have to pay particular attention to the support offered by LATCH’s Art Therapy, provided by Pod Claire. We have expressed a desire to see part of our funding go towards further provision of her services so that others can gain from the support. Pod’s support kept us motivated, smiling and living in the moment again.”
Dad, Glen Kessels, commented: “The support and care we received from so many wonderful organisations helped us through an incredibly testing time, and gave Amelie the strength to push on and raise funds to give back. Amelie’s dogged determination and bravery has inspired family, friends, colleagues and total strangers from around the world to raise funds, supporting organisations that help children and their families through the tough times – we are so very grateful to all those who gave their time and efforts”
For further information on Amelie’s Rainbow, click here.