Milly’s Smiles started in November 2015, just 2 months after I lost Milly.
I wanted to help every family receiving the worst news possible, that their child has cancer.
I also desperately needed to keep Milly’s name and memory very much alive.
After a few months of research I came up with a Welcome Bag. A bag full of essential items to help through the first few weeks of an unplanned hospital admission. It was to be given to every newly diagnosed family admitted onto the ward.
Ward 84 received our first bag in February 2016. It was funny because when they came to collect the bags they brought a tiny trolley, not realising how big our bags actually were! The trolley barely contained 2 bags, let alone the 25 we had for them.
The bags were an instant success, every item was needed and used every day, very quickly our rainbow blankets started to brighten up the ward and have now become an instantly recognisable item, identifying oncology families to each other.
After a few weeks the families and staff renamed our bags to Milly Bags and this is how they are now known. (I love this !)
In April 2016 we became a fully registered charity which was a proud moment indeed.
After a year operating from my garage and living room it was clear that we needed some premises. We rented a small office (up 4 flights of stairs!).
However 2 years of carrying large boxes up and down almost daily took its toll and with storage becoming more limited we knew we needed somewhere bigger.
During this time we had also taken on another hospital – Ward 3B at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Luckily for us a small industrial unit became available which was perfect and we were fortunate enough to secure it.
And this is where we find ourselves almost 6 years later.
We now are honoured to support 4 large oncology wards at 4 major hospitals across the country.
Royal Manchester, Alder Hey, Leeds and St Barts Children’s Hospital’s .
To date we have donated 1014 Milly Bags at a cost of approximately £141,960.
Families tell us our Milly Bag is so much more than a bag, it’s knowing someone cares and understands their fears and worry of what lies ahead. It’s about being there at that time where life has forever changed to before and after.
6 years ago I never imagined Milly’s Smiles would have made such a difference to so many families.., we are so lucky to have tremendous support from people from all walks of life.
I wish that there wasn’t a need for our bags, that children didn’t get cancer, ever. But until that time, our Milly Bags will continue to support families across the country every single day.
Thank you to everyone past and present over the years for your belief in Milly’s Smiles, and to the 1014 families we send all our love to you.