Darren’s creative 30in30

19 August 2020

Darren came up with 30 different fundraising challenges to carry out in a month to support Evelina London and help keep his family entertained while they shielded during the coronavirus pandemic.

Drawing by Darren's daughter, Isla
Drawing by Darren's daughter, Isla

Darren’s son Isaac received palliative care at Evelina London after suffering brain damage at his local hospital. Touched by the support the hospital provided during Isaac’s life and after his passing, Darren has become a massive part of the Evelina London family and regularly fundraises for the hospital that gave him more time with his little boy.

When the coronavirus pandemic worsened, Darren’s plan to run the London Marathon had to be put on hold. Not one to shy away from a challenge, he decided to start a 30in30 challenge to keep him and his family entertained while they were stuck shielding at home.

His efforts raised an amazing £1,025 for Evelina London and caught the imagination of his friends and family.

30 challenges in 30 days

Over May, Darren stretched his imagination and tried a whole range of new activities to raise money for Evelina London. The activities have ranged from yoga, Joe Wicks fitness classes and a thirty-hour hunger strike to community drawing sessions, folding thirty origami animals, and recording a song that ended up trending on LinkedIn.

Darren before and after his head shave challenge
Darren before and after his head shave challenge

Some challenges had to change at the last minute. “Eating 30 bars of chocolate, much to my disgust, wasn’t possible because we couldn’t source the chocolate bars quickly enough,” joked Darren.

The endless possibilities for Darren’s 30in30 challenge meant the whole family could get involved. Simone wasn’t able to run the marathon alongside her husband because she has arthritis, but she’s been able to complete chair-based exercises every day for the 30in30 challenge.

“Simone’s been really enjoying it,” says Darren. “It’s helped her out a lot with being stuck in the house.”

Similarly, Isla has enjoyed completing challenges alongside her dad and even come up with her own ‘Moo Cow’ challenge that involved bouncing 30 laps around her garden on her cow toy.

The family’s enthusiasm is infectious, with people from all over the community pitching in to get involved with all sorts of the challenges Darren has set himself.

“People have been asking if I’m going to continue over summer because they want to get involved!” says Darren.

The support from their community means a lot to Darren and his family, who have used fundraising to express their gratitude for the support and care they received at Evelina London during Isaac’s life and after his passing.

“Fundraising helps with my sanity,” Darren explains. “It gives me something to focus on and it’s the least we could do as a thank you to the incredible staff there.”
Some of the animals Darren and his family made for his origami animal challenge
Some of the animals Darren and his family made for his origami animal challenge

Isaac’s story

Darren’s relationship with Evelina London began when his son Isaac was rushed to Evelina London’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for cutting-edge care just five hours after he was born.

During complications during labour and an emergency c-section at his local hospital, Isaac was deprived of oxygen and suffered extensive brain damage that caused seizures. His only chance of survival was a specialist brain cooling treatment that would prevent further brain damage.

However, at the time when Isaac was born, this treatment was very rare. “Doctors said that there were only three hospitals that could do it,” recalls Darren, Isaac’s dad. “I had never even heard of Evelina London, but we were told that was where we were going.”

Unfortunately, his injuries were too great to save him, but the staff at Evelina London gave Isaac six days with his parents, Simone and Darren, before he passed away.

“The nurses helped and supported us so much,” says Darren, “They made sure we were involved in every part of Isaac’s life and we’re still friends with them now.”

Nurses helped Darren and Simone navigate all the wires so that they could bond with Isaac and learn how to hold him and change his nappies.

“The way the staff treated us made it clear that it’s so much more than just a job for these people,” he says.

The support continued after Isaac’s passing. The bereavement counselling team helped the couple process the loss of their first born and their emotions when Simone got pregnant again.

“The way that the staff and everyone treated us at Evelina London was just so incredible. We want to say thank you to them.”

Since Isaac’s passing, Darren has become a fundraising ambassador and raised over £45,000 for the hospital that gave him more time with his little boy.

“It’s just a very special hospital, that’s the crux of it,” he says. “It’s a very special place filled with very special people.”

Are you considering giving in memory of a loved one who received care at Evelina London? Find out more here.