20-year volunteering partnership between GSK and Barretstown celebrated with ‘Serious Fun Day’

GSK employees engage in variety of ‘serious’ and ‘fun’ activities at Kildare camp to help families coping with a seriously ill child

‘Serious Fun’ was on the agenda today at GSK, one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, when its employees took part in a range of volunteering activities at Barretstown to celebrate a 20-year partnership between the two organisations.

Barretstown runs residential camps and programmes for children and their families affected by cancer and serious illness. The facility also provides 24 hour medical and nursing care. Today, GSK employees spent a ‘Serious Fun Day’ at the camp in Co. Kildare, gardening and painting, in preparation for some very special visitors.

The GSK team were working together to prepare Barretstown for a bereavement camp, which offers families who have lost a child through serious illness a supportive environment within which they can spend quality time together. The camp offers the opportunity to share their experience of loss and find ways to look to the journey ahead.

Over the past two decades, GSK has provided €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. Last year, GSK entered into a new €1.2m three-year partnership the Serious Fun Children’s Network (SFCN), which is represented by Barretstown in Ireland.

GSK’s long-term investment in Barretstown goes far beyond corporate donations. As well as engaging in today’s ‘serious’ and ‘fun’ activity, GSK employees have, over the years, also provided essential business expertise and training to the Barretstown team and acted as chaperones and translators on the camping programmes.

Tim O’Dea, Director of Development at Barretstown, commented;

We have had a volunteering relationship with GSK for 20 years now but the partnership goes far beyond that. Thanks to our renewed partnership, in 2017 we served more campers than ever. We saw a 5% increase in residential campers at Barretstown and an increase of 14% of campers through our Outreach service which includes our Hospital Outreach Programme (HOP) and Camp in Schools. The GSK partnership is one that we are very proud of at Barretstown and we are delighted to see so many volunteers celebrate our 20th Anniversary at Barretstown today.

Aidan Lynch, General Manager of GSK Ireland, added:

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”. Today, and every day GSK employees spend volunteering here, makes us proud as an organisation to have made a contribution to Barretstown’s very special mission.

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.

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