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Devoted Parents Thank Local Community For Support Ahead Of Charity Gig

Legends of Weston Concert Set To Raise Thousands For Local Hospice


By Helen MacGregor

The devoted parents of a baby boy who is severely brain damaged because midwives failed to notice his heart rate dropping dangerously low during his birth have thanked the local community for their ‘invaluable’ support ahead of a huge charity concert.

One-year-old Ollie Lewis’ parents, Neil Lewis and Charmaine Malcolm, have organised the Legends of Weston concert on the Grand Pier on 7 June to fundraise for a charity close to their hearts - Children’s Hospice South West, which helps children with life limiting illnesses.

The couple, from Weston, say they have been amazed by the local community’s support in helping them fund the concert which would have cost them tens of thousands of pounds to put on. The generosity of local businesses will allow all of the proceeds from ticket sales to go direct to the charity.

Doctors at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol told Neil and Charmaine that it was unlikely Ollie would ever breathe on his own, open his eyes or live longer than two days after being starved of oxygen at birth, but he has defied all expectations.

The family receive help from Charlton Farm in Bristol, run by Children’s Hospice South West, which inspired the event which Neil describes as a ‘South West Comic Relief’.

Five of the region’s top musical acts will headline the event, which is sponsored by law firm Irwin Mitchell, including Harrisen Larner-Main, S.E.W, Ryan Inglis, Cliff Moore and The Style. Local Comedians will also hope to generate some laughs.

A production company offered their services free of charge and sent a film crew down to Charlton Farm to make four short videos about the services it provides and the difference it makes to local family’s lives, which will be played on large screens funded by Irwin Mitchell between each musical act.

A group of industry professionals including sound, lighting and video engineers, who currently work with chart topping stars such as Calvin Harris, Rihanna and Ed Sheeran, have given their expertise free of charge to put on a spectacular show that will not disappoint.

Fundraising at local supermarkets has raised hundreds of pounds and local schools are participating in dress down days and cake sales to raise vital extra funds.

Both Natwest and Barclays Bank offered support and Neil said he was amazed when Natwest pledged to raise an additional £10,000 for Charlton Farm over the next 12 months.

As well as the screens, Irwin Mitchell sponsored the creation of marketing materials to help promote the concert and also donated a new iPad4 which will be used in a ‘text to win’ competition on the night.

Neil, who has given up his job as a recruitment consultant to help care for Ollie, said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the support of the local community which has allowed us to organise event on a huge scale which simply would not have been possible without their help.

“It’s the first time Charmaine and I have done anything like this and initially we weren’t sure where to begin, but the help we have been given has meant the concert has surpassed our expectations and we’re on target to sell well over 500 tickets. We truly can’t thank the people of Weston enough.

“Due to Ollie's brain damage and illness he sometimes only sleeps for four hours a day which is why it is vital that the Charlton Farm services continue to help children and families like mine.

“The annual running cost of the farm is £3M a year and it only receives a £60,000 grant from the government so relies heavily on donations to provide the care and facilities it offers. We’re proud to be putting on the event to help create more vital funds and hope everyone continues their support on the night to make it an event to remember.”

Neil and Charmaine have instructed medical negligence experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell in a battle for justice against University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and to help gain the necessary funds for Ollie’s future care and rehabilitation.

Their solicitors, Julie Lewis and Natalie Jones, confirmed that at a complaint meeting held by the Trust, they agreed that mistakes had been made and the Trust had let them down.

Julie Lewis, from Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, said: “Neil and Charmaine have shown tremendous dedication in caring for Ollie and their love and support is testament to how far he has progressed during the first year of his life.

“However, when things get too much, Charlton Farm provides invaluable respite care that gives the couple time to recuperate on-site, safe in the knowledge Ollie is being given the treatment and support he needs.

“Neil and Charmaine dedicate their lives to caring for Ollie and their willingness to give back to the services that help them is truly admirable. The fact the local community has offered so much support also, shows what a worthy cause this is.

“We see how important these hospices are to our many clients and families with similar injuries to Ollie’s so are delighted to be a sponsor of the event and are looking forward to heading to the Grand Pier to see local talented artists perform, all in aid of a great cause.”

Tickets for the event cost £6.50 and are available to buy now from the Grand Pier retail shop and online at www.grandpier.co.uk/events-guide  Doors will open at 7.30pm.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims