28 March 2014

East Lothian customer is mum of the year

Congratulations to Laura Young, founder of The Teapot Trust, based in our Cockenzie Business Centre in Scotland, for winning a national award for her work.

Photograph source: Tesco

One of our Scottish customers based at Cockenzie Business Centre in East Lothian, is celebrating after its founder won a national award.

Laura Young, who founded The Teapot Trust, which provides art therapy for sick children, has been named Tesco Charitable Mum of the Year 2014. She was presented with her award by Boyzone’s Ronan Keating and Keith Duffy on Monday in a prestigious ceremony at The Savoy in London.

The charity has also been given £5,000 by Tesco so it can help more children share their feelings and express themselves while receiving medical treatment.

Art provided comfort

Laura made the decision to start the charity after her daughter Verity died in November 2009 when she was just eight years old. Verity spent a lot of time in hospital after she was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system starts to destroy healthy cells and organs.

The 45-year-old found art was an effective way of comforting Verity from the endless rounds of injections and blood tests she had to go through.

Laura, who has two other daughters, Nina, 13 and Isla, seven, says: “Verity was a normal, healthy baby and so active that it was like having twins when she and Nina were both under five. It was such a shock when Verity was diagnosed with Lupus at just three years old.

“Verity had to have lots of injections and have her blood taken and she absolutely loathed needles. In her head she was being physically assaulted. As a mother, it was heartbreaking to watch.”

She adds: “Before we went to the hospital, Verity would either hide in the house or be impossible to coax into the car biting me, kicking and screaming. Verity could be a very distressed and angry little girl who thought life simply wasn’t fair, which of course it wasn’t.” 

The turning point came on a particularly difficult day at the hospital when Verity kicked her consultant and refused to say sorry. She later gave the doctor a picture she had drawn of a clown with some balloons and Laura realised creating art gave her daughter a way of expressing her feelings.

One of Laura’s friends, who was an art student, then started coming to the hospital to do art with Verity.

Charity created in Verity’s memory

Sadly, doctors found Verity had an abdominal tumour in December 2007 and she started chemotherapy on Christmas Eve. Although initially, the cancer responded to treatment, the tumour then began growing again and Laura and her husband John were with Verity when she died in Rachel House Hospice in November 2009.

Laura says: “We held a collection at Verity's funeral and were going to donate it to a charity that does art therapy and ask them to come and do it in Scotland. But then we discovered there wasn't a dedicated charity that could just set up the service for us.

“We had this pot of money and thought, right we'll just have to do it ourselves.”

Within six months of Verity’s death, The Teapot Trust was born. Its name was inspired by Verity’s love of tea parties and the fact that sharing a cup of tea can provide friendship and support to those who need it.

Expansion plans

Over the last four years, the charity has raised £300,000 and it employs nine part-time art therapists. It is the only charity in Scotland which provides art therapy in a medical environment to children and young people living with a chronic illness.

In 2013 alone, The Teapot Trust provided art therapy to 3,000 youngsters in hospitals and the charity offers one-to-one and group sessions as well as three drop-in art tables at out-patient departments in Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.

Laura, who is not paid by the trust, now wants to expand the charity’s work into other areas of Scotland and eventually the UK.

She says: “Soon after Verity died, I found something she’d written in a notebook. It read: ‘Big or Small there is always something only you can do.’ It always spurs me on, because I do believe I am in a unique position to do something which makes a huge difference to the lives of sick children and their families thanks to an amazing team behind me.”

The Tesco judges said: “Laura’s dedication to making life easier for children in hospital, despite her personal tragedy, is truly inspirational.”

If this has tugged at your heart-strings, here's how you can support The Teapot Trust.

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