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10 Years On - Part 2 - June 20th 2024

Updated: Jun 20




Up until now we have been running Thinking of Oscar in our spare time, with the help of a small group of trustees.  We have worked with children’s hospitals around the country to identify opportunities to support their staff and make the lives of their patients and families a little easier.  These hospitals have included Oxford, Alder Hey (Liverpool), Leicester, Chelsea and Westminster, Royal Manchester, Great Ormond Street and as of last week the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’, where we donated a SmileyScope VR headset to their vascular access team. We have created partnerships with innovative organisations such as SmileyScope and Xploro and, thanks to the support of the many people who have raised or given money to the charity, we have been able to donate equipment and technologies to these hospitals in need.

 

In 2019, around the 5th anniversary of Oscar’s death, we organised our biggest fundraising event to date, #TOO500.  The aim of #TOO500 was to ride 500 miles, in 5 days, starting at the Oxford Children’s Hospital and visiting 5 of the top children’s hospitals across England.  From Oxford we rode to Birmingham Children’s Hospital on Day 1, followed by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on Day 2.  On Day 3 the team rode to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and then across the Pennines to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.  On Day 4 we rode from Leicester to London, in order to be able to start Day 5 at the London Olympic Velodrome, before cycling to Great Ormond Street and then on to the finish line at Blenheim Palace, just outside Oxford. During the course of 5 days we had a team of just over a dozen riders that completed all 500 miles, and close to 100 other people who joined us for various 100-mile legs of the journey.  Collectively we were able to raise over £160,000 which helped us to fund our innovation fellows.  This was of course a very successful event and helped us to raise awareness not only of Thinking of Oscar but of the need for better funding and support for children’s health in general.  It was also a significant undertaking for us as a small charity to organise such an event.



 

As 2019 ended and 2020 dawned with the advent of Covid we were unable to continue our fundraising momentum as the world came to a halt.  A few years previous we had been asked to donate a piece of equipment to the Oxford Vaccine Group, led by Andy Pollard and team, who’s work focused on finding new vaccinations for children all over the world.  During Covid they moved their efforts to finding a covid vaccine and so we like to think that our small donation helped in their successful quest to manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19.

 

Without the ability to raise funds we decided to focus on education and advocacy and launched The Not Mini Adult’s Podcast – Pioneers for Children’s Healthcare and Wellbeing.  The goal of the Podcast is to share the stories of people from across the world who are doing, or have done, amazing things to support children’s health and wellbeing.  Our target audience is those in the field of paediatrics, medical students who might wish to become paediatricians and entrepreneurs, interested in changing the world to help children and young people.  To date we have published 4 seasons of the podcast and 44 episodes and nearly 7,000 downloads.  We have listeners in 65 countries around the world, with most in the UK and US.  Notable guests include Sir Andrew Pollard (Professor of Infection & Immunity, University of Oxford), Richard Hebdon (UKRI Healthcare Director), Professor Paul Ramchandani (LEGO Professor of Play, University of Cambridge) and Professor Michelle Haber AM (Executive Director of the Children's Cancer Institute in Sydney, Australia, and Director of the Zero Childhood Cancer initiative).


We were also able to continue selling our Thinking of Oscar Cookbook, Made with Love, and had many people contacting us saying how much they loved it, especially when looking for family friendly recipies during lockdown. The cookbook was originally intended to be a collection of recipes inspired by friends and neighbours who, in the weeks and months after Oscar died, generously delivered home cooked meals to the our doorstep. Day after day, as word of the project spread some celebrity chefs became involved in the campaign. The resulting book is a collection of tried and tested recipes, family favourites handed down through generations, meals that are quick to prepare and great to share.  Together we created a cookbook that is unique and eclectic, but most of all fun.  The first print run sold out in months, because many people came back having supported the charity with their first purchase, and bought the book for friends and family as gifts. Professional chefs who had heard about the campaign and wanted to become involved included Raymond Blanc, Tom Kerridge, The Hairy Bikers, Gizzi Erskine and many more who all contributed recipes to the book. For more information or to order your copy please visit our page here.


In 2023 David used the knowledge and network that we have acquired to work with Innovate UK and Founders Factory in organising an accelerator for very early-stage companies focused on bringing new technologies and solutions to children’s health.  Over 70 organisations applied to be accepted into the accelerator, 20 were selected to pitch at two selection days and 10 were ultimately successfully chosen to take part in a 10-week Children Health Impact acceleration program.  You can read more about the program here.  Of the 10 that were successful, 8 were selected by Innovate UK to receive funding for a feasibility study for which they were all awarded £100,000; £800,000 in total for the cohort.  They are now all looking for follow-on funding which is hard to come by as there are only two known venture funds globally that focus on children’s health.  Both of whose founders were mentors on the accelerator, John Parker at Springhood Ventures and Marc Ramis from Montana Impact Fund.




 

We believe that there is an opportunity for Thinking of Oscar to evolve to help bridge this gap and raise an ‘impact fund’ that could support more companies to innovate and find solutions to unmet needs in children’s health, ultimately impacting more children and families.  This of course will not be an easy task, however by identifying and selecting the right foundations, grant opportunities and high net worth individuals we hope that over the course of the next 5 years we will be able to realise this goal.  We would partner with other funds such as Springhood and Montana to de-risk any investments that we make, with net returns ultimately being put back into the fund, to benefit more companies.


To support this initiative, over the course of the next 6 months we aim to launch our ‘Future 2 Billion’ fundraising campaign.  There are two billion humans under the age of 18 globally, that’s roughly 25% of the population. We are working on a campaign to raise one ‘£ $ € for every one of those children and young people.  If everyone gave one pound/dollar/euro to represent every child that they have, then it starts to add up and we believe this is the perfect way to start our fundraising initiatives.  To keep abreast of this campaign please sign up here.


Finally, to help us with our goals over the next 5 years we are looking to strengthen our charity trustee group.  We will be beginning our recruitment process over the summer, and will be looking to bring on board skills to help us meet our objectives detailed above.  These include but are not limited to, marketing and PR, investment / venture experience, lobbying, finance, legal and paediatric clinical experience.   If you have any of these skills or believe you could help us to grow in the future, then please do email us on charity@thinkingofoscar.com.




 

Our thanks to everyone that has supported us as a family and as a charity over the course of the last 10 years.  We are supremely grateful and excited about what is going to come next.



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