Dad Gareth thanks ARCHIE with incredible £4,550 donation

The ARCHIE Foundation has been boosted by an incredible donation from a local dad and his employer.

Gareth Vaughan was inspired to raise money for the Fresh Air Project at the Highland Children’s Unit after his family spent time in Raigmore following the birth of their second child, Carys. The project will provide an all-weather play area so children can enjoy the outdoor space whatever the conditions.

Gareth (centre) presents the cheque of £4,550 to Dawn Cowie (left) of The ARCHIE Foundation at the Towergate office in Inverness.

The 35-year-old held a bake sale at Towergate Insurance in Inverness, part of the Ardonagh Group, where he works as a broker.

He raised £350 which was topped up by £200 in the form of match funding by the group’s charitable arm, the Ardonagh Community Trust, or ACT as it is known internally.

A funding application was then submitted to ACT and Gareth was given a £4,000 grant to put towards his fundraising efforts, bringing the total to £4,550 which was presented to Dawn Cowie of The ARCHIE Foundation.

Gareth explained he was driven to raise cash for the hospital, and in particular the Fresh Air Project, as the charity helped his family to be together during Carys’ time in hospital.

Gareth and Ruth pictured with son Ben and daughter Carys at Christmas 2017.

His partner Ruth Stormont gave birth to Carys, now 18-months, ten weeks prematurely. Their daughter was born weighing just 2lb 4oz.

Further issues then became apparent as she grew, including holes in her heart and problems with feeding with the tot requiring to be tube fed.

Carys was also born with amniotic band syndrome which required one of her feet to be amputated at birth.

She has since spent much of her young life in between spells at the Highland Children’s Unit, the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, where she had operations on her heart.

Gareth said it was the family’s time in Inverness, with it’s dedicated outside play area, that helped them be together the most: “We spent a huge amount of time in hospital in Inverness.

Ben playing the play area at Raigmore

“It was like a base for us to be a family.

“Our son Ben was only two when this was all going on, and he had to be there to spend time with us and his sister.

“A hospital ward isn’t a place for a two-year-old and it wasn’t very practical. We didn’t want him bringing in bugs from outside – or having the chance of him catching anything.

“That’s why the play area is invaluable.”

“It meant Ben could get out and play but we could also all be together as a family while Carys was in hospital.

“But it’s quite exposed. When I heard about the ARCHIE Foundation fresh air project which will help children play outside in all weather, I wanted to give something back for the help they gave us.”

Ben and Carys pictured at Christmas 2018.

Gareth also paid tribute to his colleagues in Inverness for their support during the difficult start to his daughter’s life.

He added: “My colleagues have come through all of this with us.

“Without their support – and that of Towergate – it would have been a whole lot harder.”

As for Carys, Gareth says there’s “still a long way to go”.

He explained: “Her heart is stable – but it’s not completely repaired.

“It’s likely she’ll need open-heart surgery but it’s just a case of her body deciding when that needs done.

“But she is a tough character and has a huge amount of spirit and fight about her.”

Mike Newsome from Ardonagh Community Trust said: “ACT was formed with a simple aim of being able to provide more help and support to causes and communities close to the heart of Ardonagh’s people. Gareth’s story really caught the minds of our Trustees, and we are delighted that ACT was able to provide a little extra help to a charity so important to him and his family.”

Christina Brockman-More, fundraising manager for The ARCHIE Foundation, said: “This is an incredible donation to receive and we can’t thank Gareth and the Ardonagh Community Trust enough.

“This money will go a long way to helping reach our fundraising target for the Fresh Air Project.

“Gareth knows first-hand the benefits the project will bring to young patients and families in the Highland Children’s Unit.”

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Dad Gareth thanks ARCHIE with incredible £4,550 donation