BEREAVEMENT support is crucial and often regarded as a lifeline by many families who lose a child, according to Kirsten Watson of Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity (GCHC).

It funds a bereavement support service for families at the hospital, which is delivered by Child Bereavement UK, as well as funding the Office for Rare Conditions, with money raised by Kiltwalk over the years making a valuable contribution to both services. Virtual Kiltwalks, in fact, helped keep the services going during lockdown when normal fund-raising events could not be held.

The first physical Kiltwalk for two years will take place in Glasgow next Sunday with all funds raised boosted by an additional 50% from The Hunter Foundation, providing much needed funds for charities across the country.

There is still time to sign up and Watson said that every pound raised would make a difference as fund-raising was still difficult because of the pandemic. Virtual Kiltwalks alone have raised more than £100,000 for GCHC over the last 18 months.

“For charities like ours, when grassroot fundraising activities could not happen, that additional injection of cash was just incredible,” said Watson.

“People have shown such kindness and the top-up from the Hunter Foundation helped us to continue to be there for families and patients over the last 18 months which was so important. Thanks to their efforts we were able to continue enhancing a patient and families journey through the children’s hospital in Glasgow.”

Watson said it would be “lovely” to see a physical Kiltwalk return.

“It is such a fantastic fund raising event and there is great camaraderie,” she said. “It’s very accessible too. You just put on your tartan and your trainers and off you go with friends and family, or on your own. Everybody is there for their own reasons and supporting their own charities but it almost feels like one big family.”

The charity’s many initiatives at the hospital were expanded around four years ago by the Bereavement Support Service and the Office For Rare Conditions.

“Having access to bereavement support after you lose a child is crucial for many of our hospital families,” said Watson. “During lockdown the service, delivered by Child Bereavement UK, had to repurpose the way it worked but it has continued to be there for families every single day.”

She added that it had become even more necessary during the pandemic as families suffering from bereavement were impacted further by the restrictions, such as the limit on numbers at funerals. The Bereavement Support Service also offers support to hospital staff whether on a one to one basis, or through group support.

The Office for Rare Conditions, as well as funding research, also helps to support families with children diagnosed with a rare condition.

“It brings families together to share experiences and information,” she said. “It has been a welcome addition to the hospital because quite often these families can feel very isolated. Their child can be one of just a couple in Scotland or the UK with a rare condition and they want to be put in touch with families who can share their experiences and help to offer support and guidance where possible. Funds enable the Office to holds a series of family days annually as well as undertaking research into rare conditions.”

The National:

Since Sir Tom Hunter’s Foundation started the Kiltwalk almost £27 million has been raised for 2640 different Scottish charities, including Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Sir Tom Hunter (above) said: “My message to charities is: Please take my money!

“There’s never been a time when Scottish charities, folk who need our help, are just saying to us, ‘Give us a wee hand’. And I am saying: ‘A wee hand up not a hand-out’ – and that’s what’s brilliant about The Kiltwalk.

“It might just be the most important thing The Hunter Foundation ever does.”