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A magical evening of ice skating raises over £300,000 in memory of Thomas Waley-Cohen

Place2Be and the Oxford Children's Hospital have benefited from a very special event this December, raising more than £300,000.

The Place2Be fundraising team at Christmas at Battersea Power Station's ice skating rink. They are all looking into the camera and smiling.

Christmas at Battersea Power Station saw several hundred guests enjoying a private evening of ice skating next to the Thames, with the iconic power station providing a dramatic backdrop. 

Organised by the Waley-Cohen family, the evening was in aid of Place2Be and the Oxford Children's Hospital – both charities that the family has long supported. 

The event was created to mark what would soon have been the 40th birthday of their son, Thomas Waley-Cohen. Tom passed away in 2004 just a few weeks after he turned twenty, following a lengthy battle with bone cancer. 

At the time there was a large fundraising appeal to build the Oxford Children’s Hospital. The Waley-Cohen family and friends raised over £1 million for it. Tom’s Ward, named in his memory, continues to provide care and support to thousands of sick children every year.  

Place2Be works in schools to deliver counselling and training to some of the most vulnerable children in our society; providing the right support to allow children to thrive throughout their lives. Funding from this event will help us continue to provide vital support in schools. 

The evening has also funded nine specialist ventilators for the Oxford Children’s Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to help the tiniest of babies needing delicate life-saving care.  

Clinical staff from Oxford’s PICU were invited to join the party, and showed off their ice skating skills while also chatting to guests about the vital work they do.  

Battersea Power Station's ice skating rink. The power station is covered in Christmas lights.

Felicity Waley-Cohen, who was the driving force behind the event, explained why it meant to much: 

“This has been a celebration, a year early as it happens, for what would have been Thomas’ 40th. It is of course impossible to imagine Thomas as a man heading into middle age but somehow, I think he would still be the irrepressible personality, who played the tough hand he was dealt with humour and joy and really made the most of his short life.  

“He would certainly be astonished but also truly thrilled to see what has been achieved in his memory. None of which would have been possible without the help of so many friends who have supported this fabulous event -  and so many others who so generously continue to help these causes that we care about so deeply.”  

As we approach our 30th anniversary, Place2Be wants to be there for many thousands more children, families and school communities, introducing our ‘whole school approach’ to many more schools and growing the children’s mental health workforce to support this. Thanks to the support of the Waley-Cohen family and everyone who has donated and participated to this event, we can reach the increasing number of children who desperately need our mental health services, before it’s too late. Jacqui Segal, Place2Be’s Director of Fundraising

Dr Alison Shefler, Consultant in Children’s Critical Care, said:We want to say an enormous thank you to the Waley-Cohen family, and all who have supported this magical event. It was wonderful to attend, but most of all to be able to say thank you in person for this incredible support that will help us care for our smallest and often most vulnerable patients. 

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