Memory of 9-year-old who passed away from a brain tumour lives on thanks to her parents and National Lottery players
The family of a young girl named Rhianna Chellew who passed away from an inoperable brain tumour is celebrating the news that National Lottery money will see the memory of their child live on.
Rhianna’s Swing in Neath Port Talbot is one of 10 projects across Wales sharing in £2,666,319 as part of the latest round of the Big Lottery Fund’s People and Places programme. They will use £50,000 to expand an existing play park in Neath, integrating new equipment to create a fully accessible park that can be used by both able-bodied and disabled children including those that are more severely disabled and confined to wheelchairs, making it a fully inclusive play area.
Jillian Dale Trustee and secretary added:
“The news that Rhianna’s Swing has been awarded £50,000 is amazing and means that we shall be able to push ahead with installing Rhianna’s Swing Play Park as together with monies we have raised over the past 18 months we now have enough funds for the whole project. Many people have worked hard, undertaking many challenges and events and we are very grateful to all who have been involved. During the application process, hundreds of people were consulted about the need for such facilities and 100% of respondents were in favour. We hope that the Park will provide massive enjoyment for children of all abilities and be a fitting memorial to Rhianna a beautiful, brave little girl. Thank you to all who have supported the Big Lottery.”
In April 2015 Rhianna was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a brain tumour in the middle of the brain stem, and a devastating diagnosis which would change her, and her family’s, life forever.
Her diagnosis led to starting an intensive course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions, but the tumour had quickly resulted in her becoming wheelchair bound.
Over the following months, her parents took her to Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd which has a disabled access swing, and it meant the world to her to be able to join her able-bodied friends on some of the equipment. She enjoyed it so much that her parents looked for other playgrounds with specialist equipment but there were not any in Wales. It was that moment that the idea for Rhianna’s Swing was born.
An MRI scan revealed that although treatment had shrunk the tumour, it had spread, and sadly on the 23rd of June 2016 Rhianna passed away surrounded by her family.
Joanna Chellew, Rhianna’s mum said:
“A huge thank you to the national lottery! It means the world that Rhianna’s Swing Park will be enjoyed by so many children in her memory. We know that Rhianna would be absolutely delighted that a special park in her name will make such a huge difference to childrens’ lives.”
The People and Places programme awards grants for a broad range of community projects. For further information about the programme and how you can apply for funding, please visit http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/fundingfinderwales.