Ten Years with Rosie's Rainbow Fund

Hello, I am Amanda Tibbels, aromatherapy massage therapist for Rosie’s Rainbow Fund also known as Rosie’s Rainbow massage lady by staff, a friend by parents and Rainbow lady or Amanda by the children and their families, celebrating 10 years at The John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital I thought it was time to write an entry for this blog.

Walking into the hospital I smile thinking how lucky I am to have met wonderful Carolyn and her fantastic team who work tirelessly and with such passion carrying out this amazing legacy Rosie left behind.

I remember so clearly having a conversation with Helene Czornyj about what to do next in life, my boys were at secondary school and I had some free time. I had been giving her beautiful daughter Ella pampering therapeutic aromatherapy massage as she had Rett syndrome and it was at this time I learned of Rosie’s illness. Being familiar with hospitals I was asked if I would like to work half a day as an aromatherapist for the parents.

I wasn’t quite sure what they expected of me, it wasn’t something I could look up but it became obvious that my skills and knowledge as a nurse, midwife and therapeutic massage aromatherapist were essential and I have never looked back!

Over the 10 years my role has changed as demands increase slightly adapting to what the parents and families need. In the hospital I cover all 7 wards including PICU each specialising in different aspects of medicine or surgery all as important as each other. I never know what each day will bring, the staff suggest who I see while the lovely play specialists look after the children allowing the parents to have quality time out and a therapeutic aromatherapy massage in our Rosie’s Rainbow Therapy room.The one thing that doesn’t change no matter what the illness of the baby or child is, every parent feels isolated, they need headspace, a chance to be listened to as they try make sense of what has happened and what is to come. That despair and feeling of loneliness no matter how much support from family and friends, their world has been turned upside down, life isn’t normal but life outside carries on as their journey begins, the reality is, yes, it has happened to them.

Many of my friends ask me how I cope with the work I do but if you meet our gorgeous brave children and their loving families you would realise that I can’t give them all that they want, but I can be there for them, be a friend, support them whilst in hospital and this is what Rosie’s Rainbow Fund is all about.

As I leave each evening I walk down the stairs and often (I guess how the light shines through the window) against the wall I see a tiny bright rainbow, I like to think it’s Rosie’s way of saying thank you and good night.

A rainbow from Rosie at the JR

A "thank you" rainbow from Rosie at the end of my shift at the John Radcliffe Children's Hospital.

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