Tuesday 3 May: Lewisham Councillor Damien Egan unveils the tribute ‘One thousand paper cranes for Ella’ at University Hospital Lewisham The official memorial to Ella Roberta was unveiled by Councillor Damien Egan to mark World Asthma Day on Tuesday 3 May. Ella died in 2013 aged nine from breathing difficulties related to her asthma and was treated by staff at University Hospital Lewisham during her illness.
The 1,000 paper cranes were made by Maggie Gregory, Alexandra Ambrozy, Hebe Hutchinson, Eva Rabin-Holmes and Lola Kastner from Holbeach Primary School in Catford where Ella was a pupil. These have been hung inside a specially designed case outside the children’s ward at University Hospital Lewisham together with a plaque to mark Ella’s life.
The girls said: “We made the cranes in memory of Ella who went to our school.
It took us 2-3 months and we worked in our lunch breaks and after school to finish them as our deadline was World Asthma Day. “To raise money people sponsored us to include a note on the crane so our teachers, pupils and parents wrote messages; some were about Ella, their own family and others were messages of hope. We are all very excited to see our cranes being unveiled today!”
Robert Cole, Matron for Children’s Acute Services, said: “In recognition of World Asthma Day we felt it a fitting memorial to unveil these colourful cranes as a permanent feature outside the children’s ward so that children, families can reflect on their significance.”
Rosamond Roberta, Ella’s mum said: “I hope the cranes give comfort to children who use the hospital. It is amazing to have so many friends and supporters come along to their unveiling as it shows how highly thought of Ella was and that people care. Her strength touched so many and she was passionate about the hospital and the staff who work there who cared for her”.
Going back to the Children’s Inpatient Ward I had a chance to take in all that had happened and I had a quiet moment to reflect and think about what Ella would have made of it all. She would have had that wryly smile and she would have been very proud that she was being remembered in this way.
She was very proud of her local hospital and was involved in the Save Lewisham Campaign. Ella was very worried that the A & E was going to close down which would have had an enormous effect on her. She got used to Lewisham hospital eventually as she was always in and out, Ella was familiar to all the staff in Paediatric’s which made it a little less scary. I always tried to normalise her stay in hospital because when you are young and chronically ill hospital can be quite a scary place to be.
I wouldn’t say Ella loved hospital as it disrupted her day to day life but she got used to it and understood the clinicians had her best interest. Sophia, Robert and I will always be grateful for the care Ella received as her condition was complex. Everyone involved in her care did the best to allow her to live a normal life as possible which is what she desperately wanted. Thank You.