Help Your Britain - The Pluto Appeal

Today marks the ninth user-nominated charity to be showcased on the Bing homepage as part of our Help Your Britain campaign, where we showcase the work of a small UK charity on the last Friday of each month, enabling the cause to tell its own story.

There are more than 187,000 registered charities across Great Britain with a story to be told, many of whom will never be heard due to the lack of resources at their disposal. We’re shining the spotlight on these unsung British heroes as part of a long-term campaign, enabling you, the British public, to nominate the charities you would like to see featured on the homepage on the final Friday of each month via


Today is the turn of …

The Pluto Appeal, which is part of the Children’s Hospital Trust Fund, aims to fundraise £1.5million for a ‘da-Vinci’ surgical robot to perform life-saving operations on little people at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. The new surgical system would give up to 3,000 children and babies in London and the South of England access to the benefits of robotic surgery, which allows for quicker recovery times, shorter hospital stays, smaller scars and less chance of infection. The ‘da-Vinci’ robot would be the first advanced surgical system dedicated solely for children and babies in Southern England and London – the only other robot in the country being in Leeds.

A day in the life of Rebecca McLoughlin, Administrator, Children’s Hospital Trust Fund

November, 2012

Nothing is as rewarding as doing something which you really believe in and this is something that I and the volunteers at The Children’s Hospital Trust Fund experience every day when doing our work.

Today I spent hardly any time at all in my cupboard-sized office in the basement of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital because I was scheduled to hold a morning assembly at a London School for children aged 4-10 years.

At 9:30am I found myself in front of 100 children who were interested in how The Children’s Hospital Trust Fund buys surgical and medical equipment, which is too expensive for the NHS to pay for. The main purpose of my visit was to raise awareness of the charity’s appeal to raise £1.5 million to buy a robotic surgical system, known as Pluto the Robot, which will be used to perform operations on babies and children.

The children were so excited to hear that Pluto would be the first surgical robot of its kind in London and only the second in the UK to be used for operating on children. They completely understood that it was a piece of revolutionary technology and their competitive streaks came out when I told them that America already had 300 robots which operate on children.

I explained to the children that when my daughter was a baby she had an operation and that, if Pluto had been around then, she would have recovered more quickly than she did and would have been left with a smaller scar.

I ended my talk with a discussion with the children, which mainly involved talking about robots. The children thought that Pluto was one of the world’s most important robots alongside the Transformers and R2D2.

After the assembly I darted back to my office for a meeting with the charity’s PR volunteer and a hospital play therapist. The topic of discussion was the best Christmas gifts that the charity could give to the babies and children at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The charity’s PR volunteer presented a list of retailers who she thought might be willing to donate toys to the cause. The play therapist recommended that we try to source some doodle pads for the children as they could be used to distract ill children and are less infectious than teddies, which often have to be disposed of when they end up outside a child’s isolated unit.

The meeting was interrupted by a phone call from one of the teachers at the school I had visited earlier in the day. The children had voted to make The Children’s Hospital Trust Fund their preferred charity for the year. It made me so happy to think that the children realised the important part Pluto has to play in revolutionising paediatric surgery in the UK.

At 4pm I went off to source a “Father Christmas” to distribute the Christmas gifts to the children and, luckily, the Chairman of the charity agreed – he is also a Senior Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at the hospital and so he’s a perfect candidate for the job.

At 5:30pm I headed off to host a drinks reception at the LK Bennett store on the Kings Road in London. The store manager had agreed that 10% of any purchases made during the evening would be donated to the charity. The Chelsea Day Spa attended the event and gave shoppers hand massages, which went down really well. The evening went well and we raised £80, which brings us up to £1,030,000.

We now have 70% of the money needed to buy Pluto and are putting all our efforts into raising the remaining £470,000.

If you would like to see your charity of choice take over the Bing homepage, you can nominate them here: Don’t forget to get involved with the conversation on Facebook and Twitter #HelpYourBritain

Share on twitter Share on facebook Share on linkedin Share on linkedin