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10 Years On - Part 1 - June 19th 2024

Wednesday 19th June 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of Oscar’s death. He had been unwell for a number of weeks and was eventually diagnosed with Osteomyelitis - a bone infection which was found in his spine. How that got there we have no idea. We wondered if it was through some broken skin due to eczema, but of course it’s impossible to pin a cause down to that extent. What we do understand is that a picc line that had been fitted to administer intravenous antibiotics became infected. He then contracted rotavirus, which all young children are now vaccinated against, but this was not the case when Oscar was born. In very rare instances rotavirus can mutate into something more serious. In Oscar’s situation this was encephalitis which is a viral inflammation of the brain. It can be a very dangerous illness and proved fatal for Oscar.

Very soon after Oscar died we applied to the Charities Commission to found 'Thinking of Oscar'. As, at that stage, his cause of death was not clearly understood (it took many months for the encephalitis diagnosis to be determined) we set out to do something that would be useful to as many children and families as possible. 

 We were granted approval to be recognised as an official charity in February 2015 and we went about raising money to provide tangible items that would make the lives of children and their families whilst in hospital care a little easier.  Leading up to Christmas 2014, we launched a campaign seeking donations of books, games and toys to help distract children during procedures in hospital. The support from family and friends was overwhelming  and we were able to donate 5 large crates to the Oxford Children’s Hospital. However, as we had both spent our careers working  in technology-led companies, we wondered what technology might be available that would also make a difference.


Since that time, we have raised in excess of £400,000 to pay for new technologies to be seeded into hospitals up and down the country. Initiatives have included:

  • ‘Vein finders’ that illuminate a child’s vein for doctors or nurses to find the right vein, first time to help make blood tests or cannulations less stressful for all involved.  

  • A magic carpet holographic system that beams interactive pictures onto the floor or even onto their bed sheets, if they are unable to get out of bed, for children to interact with, whether to learn or play.  

  • An artificial reality, interactive tablet based program to help empower children to understand what is about to happen to them whilst in hospital. 

  • A virtual reality headset, designed to help distract, educate and reduce anxiety in children who are having procedures from a (seemingly) simple blood test to a not insignificant CT scan.

Find out more information on all of these projects and more here.

At the beginning of 2017, David attended a conference in Miami organised by the International Society for Paediatric Innovation. This brought together mainly North American based hospitals, start-ups, innovators and investors, all with one mission in mind, to bring positive change to children’s healthcare. That’s where we started to truly appreciate the seismic gap in how children are thought about when it comes to global healthcare.  Children represent 25% of the global population, meaning there are 2 billion individuals aged between 0 and 18 in the world, yet they receive less than 5% of global healthcare funding. Technology companies lead the economy with their share prices and market capitalisation, yet less than 1% of digital health spend focuses on children. 

Many innovations for children have evolved from solutions already implemented in adult care which have then been scaled down.  However, we need to remember that children are not mini adults and benefit from solutions that are created not only with them in mind but in concert with children and families. With this understanding we chose to change our mission slightly in 2019 to focus on ‘bringing the future of healthcare to children’. Thinking of Oscar does this by investing in innovation and technologies above and beyond those provided by the UK national health service. We have mentioned some of the companies that we have worked with above and you can find more information on our website about them here. We have, in recent years, also funded ‘Innovation Fellows’ at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.  Both of whom reported positive impact for children, families and clinicians simply through having the focus on bringing the possibility of innovation and change to children’s services.

None of this would have been possible without incredible support from others who have helped us to raise money to be able to invest in these resources and technologies. Almost all of the money that we have raised has been as a result of individual fundraising from bake sales to obstacle races, white collar boxing to marathons and many, many triathlons.  We have made the Blenheim Palace Triathlon one of our main fundraising events on an annual basis and, apart from during Covid, we have had a team representing Thinking of Oscar every year.  This year was no exception, where the Thinking of Oscar team collectively raised in excess of £4,500. You can still donate should you wish here.


Oscar’s anniversary allows us time to reflect on what we have achieved and what we would like to achieve moving forwards.  In part 2 of this newsletter we discuss our hopes for the charity for the future and how we are extremely positive about the impact that we hope to have in making a difference for children’s healthcare.

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