"Oliver's Kitchen" cooks up a storm
The parents of a toddler who had a stroke at birth have pledged to support a national charity and thank the hospital which cared for their son through an inspirational fundraising project designed to get families cooking.
Oliver Archer, who celebrates his second birthday in April, spent the first week of his life in the neonatal unit at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Although the stroke left him with a significant area of brain damage, he has since amazed parents Liz (31), James (30) and four-year-old sister Mia with the progress he has made, and was signed off by the hospital after his first birthday.
Now his parents, from Higham, have decided to raise money for the hospital and the Stroke Association through the sale of a bright, family-friendly cookbook called “Oliver’s Kitchen”. Written from one-year-old Oliver’s perspective, it has been designed by James and aims to celebrate simple home cooking while also telling Oliver’s story and charting his recovery.
“It was horrendous to find that Ollie had suffered a stroke, and we felt so helpless and didn’t know where to go for help,” said Liz. “But we received fantastic support from the neonatal unit, and wanted to do something to repay them for the care they gave to our son.
“It has been a rocky road, but Ollie is now doing brilliantly. Reaching every milestone has been extra special – it was such a relief when he started to walk, as it meant he’d be able to run around and do all the things children enjoy, while his speech has come on leaps and bounds. We’re really proud of him.”
Along with vital funding, Liz and James hope that Oliver’s Kitchen will raise awareness of childhood stroke and where to go for help while also encouraging other families to venture into the kitchen and find enjoyment in cooking.
James said: “We hope the book will not only help people to cook some delicious food and make them laugh, but also show them what a lot of care, hope, faith and support can achieve. It might also give hope to any parents, like ourselves, who have gone through a similar ordeal.
“Fortunately Ollie is making an amazing recovery and is doing really well. There’s still a long way to go and his future development is uncertain, but we remain positive and he continues to fill our lives with joy.
“We are so grateful for the care he received and wanted to do something for both the Stroke Association and the neonatal unit. Hopefully one day the money raised by Oliver’s Kitchen will help towards the care and recovery of other babies who unfortunately don’t get the best start in life.”
Jan Bloomfield, executive director of workforce and communications at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the Archers have generously decided to donate a portion of the profits from this fantastic project to our neonatal unit.
“Oliver’s Kitchen is a wonderful book which will hopefully raise awareness of childhood stroke while also encouraging other families to share the enjoyment of cooking together.”
Joe Korner, from the Stroke Association, said: “It is a common myth that stroke only happens to older people. But at least 400 children and babies like Ollie have a stroke every year in the UK.
“Ollie’s story is remarkable and we wish him all the very best with his ongoing recovery. We’d like to thank the Archer family for donating some of the profits from their book to help us continue our work supporting stroke survivors of all ages and their families.
“There are many possible causes for stroke in children; for example sickle cell disease and heart problems. It is imperative that more research is done to help establish the reasons behind childhood stroke and how it can be prevented.”
Oliver’s Kitchen is priced at £9.99 and is available in the Friends of West Suffolk Hospital shop or by visiting www.olivers-kitchen.co.uk. Profits from its sale will be split 75 – 25 between the hospital and The Stroke Association