Danger: Kids at work (but it’s all for Serious-Fun with Barretstown)

GSK employees’ children mount a “take-over” bid to celebrate the launch of a new €1.2m GSK partnership with Barretstown and the SeriousFun Children’s Network

“Serious Fun” rather than medicines was on the agenda at global healthcare company GSK today when its employees’ children were invited in for the morning to “work” alongside their mums and dads. The GSK “Serious Fun” day was held in celebration of a new €1.2m GSK partnership with the SeriousFun Children’s Network (SFCN), which is represented by Barretstown in Ireland.

GSK’s newest recruits designed the next marketing campaign for Aquafresh, learned why prevention is so important for asthma patients, undertook some talent management with the HR team by “hiring” some new employees and learnt about the science behind vaccination.  Following their immersion in the fascinating world of pharma, they joined their mums and dads, alongside the rest of the GSK team to be led by Barretstown camp leaders in playing some of the games more usually played at their therapeutic recreation camps for children with serious illness in Kildare.

The new 3-year partnership between GSK and SFCN continues the close relationship between GSK and the organisation, which began with Barretstown back in 1994. To date, GSK have provided over €8m in funding to Barretstown which has helped the charity to rebuild the lives of thousands of children who are coping with serious illness and to provide top class family camp facilities, medical assistance and a new hospital outreach programme. 

GSK’s long-term investment in Barretstown goes far beyond corporate donations; the company runs a number of CSR initiatives with its employees such as its volunteer programme which has seen 350 GSK employees giving their time to Barretstown in a variety of ways, such as providing essential business expertise and training to the Barretstown team and acting as chaperones and translators on the camping programmes.

Dee Ahern, CEO of Barretstown, commented:

“We have been working with GSK now for nearly 25 years so we are delighted to announce the next phase of this very unique partnership. Without GSK, Barretstown simply wouldn’t be where we are today: With this new investment from GSK, we are hoping to welcome over 25% more campers over the next three years as well as double the number of children and families attending our outreach programmes to nearly 4,300. Our unique partnership with GSK really goes beyond financial support: our camps welcome hundreds of GSK volunteers every year who bring a wealth of expertise, enthusiasm and goodwill to our organisation.”

Aidan Lynch, General Manager of GSK Pharmaceuticals Ireland and Barretstown Board member, added:

“Today is all about having some serious fun but for a very serious cause: GSK’s relationship with Barretstown goes back to its very beginning and we are so proud to have played a part in helping them impact and change the lives of so many children and families. Barretstown has a very special place in the hearts of GSK employees so we wanted to mark our new partnership by doing something that celebrated the spirit of “Serious Fun” and bring that to life in our own offices for the day.”

About the GSK SFCN programme:

The GSK SFCN partnership supports six camps in Europe: Barretstown, Ireland, Over the Wall, UK, l’Envol, France, Dynamo, Italy, Bator Tabor, Hungary, Jordan River Village, Israel, as well as new Global Partnership Programmes in South Africa and Botswana.

This new agreement follows on from a previous 3-year relationship, where with GSK’s support, the SFCN Europe and Israel Camps have:

  • served 23,234 campers through residential programmes
  • served 15,587 campers through Hospital Outreach programmes
  • welcomed 15,612 volunteers
  • welcomed 310 GSK staff as volunteers

Key achievements across the Pan European partnership over the past three years:

  • Expanded the Hospital Outreach programme in Ireland
  • Strengthened the volunteer and staff training programmes in Italy including the introduction of a distance learning tool for participants.
  • Introduced a camper nutrition programme in Hungary
  • Offered camping sessions to hearing impaired children in Israel
  • Built a world class Therapeutic Recreation Programme in France
  • Increased the numbers of seriously ill children and their siblings served in the UK
  • Benefited from the leadership of local GSK teams allowing them to scale up services and ambitions for the future
  • Achieved greater connectivity within SFCN camps
  • Established stronger relationships between SFCN camps and staff in their local GSK office




About GSK in Ireland:

GSK, one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, employs 1,800 people across four locations in Ireland – Dungarvan, Cork, Sligo and Dublin. GSK is committed to helping people around the world to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK is challenging the status quo of how a healthcare company can contribute to global health through improving access and innovation through both what and how we operate.

GSK in Dungarvan which produces a variety of ‘over-the-counter’ pharmacy and oral care products is the global home of Panadol:  Around 7.5 billion Panadol tablets are produced in Dungarvan each year – that’s 150 Panadol tablets a second - exporting to over 70 countries worldwide.

Our Cork site produces the active ingredients for a range of medicines for diseases such as childhood cancer, depression, diabetes, HIV, Parkinson’s disease and arthritis while our Sligo facility is dedicated to skincare producing around 30 million skin medicines and products every year including Oilatum and Physiogel exporting to over 65 countries

Our Dublin headquarters are home to our Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Healthcare businesses. Our Pharma business is a leader in respiratory medicines and the largest provider of vaccines to the HSE in Ireland while the consumer healthcare is one of the leaders in both the pain and oral care markets owning famous brands such as Panadol, Voltorol, Sensodyne and Corsodyl.


About Barretstown:

Barretstown was founded by Hollywood actor Paul Newman in 1994 and modelled on his renowned Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, USA. It serves children affected by serious illnesses – primarily cancer and serious blood diseases and their families.  Barretstown’s mission is to rebuild the lives of these children and their families. We believe that every child with a serious illness should enjoy their childhood. The services provided to all of the children and families who come to Barretstown are entirely free of charge, so donations and fundraising efforts are vital for the charity to help more sick children experience the magic of Barretstown each year. Barretstown is supported by donations and the fundraising efforts of corporate supporters, individuals and community groups. For more information see www.barretstown.org