Brave family who credit Evelina London with giving them extra time with their daughter are invited to royal carol service

Last updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2023

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Gareth, Molly and Kathryn Jarman

A family who thank staff at Evelina London Children's Hospital for supporting their teenager while she had a rare heart cancer have been invited to a festive Royal carol service. The service at Westminster Abbey is hosted by Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales, Evelina London's Royal Patron.

Kathryn and Gareth Jarman's daughter Rosie was 14 years old when she was diagnosed in October 2021 with a rare heart tumour which has only been found in 35 other people, including just 5 children worldwide.

Kathryn is from the Brecon Beacons in Wales. She explains that they initially put Rosie's early symptoms of vomiting and cramps down to an active lifestyle, having recently completed 4 Duke of Edinburgh and Royal Air Force cadet expeditions. But eventually her condition worsened and a scan revealed a 15cm tumour in Rosie's heart.

Within 24 hours Rosie was transported to Evelina London for emergency open heart surgery and removal of the tumour. Kathryn said:

The staff were like a machine, they knew exactly what they were doing and were amazing. They inspired confidence and yet were so respectful and kept Rosie's dignity throughout.

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Rosie Jarman

Rosie survived the 7 ½-hour operation and went on to have more treatment at a number of NHS trusts including 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of proton beam therapy (a form of targeted radiation treatment to destroy any remaining tumour cells).

Sadly, Rosie died in June 2022, but she left a compelling legacy of a book, "A Mountain In My Heart", which she wrote during treatment to document her experiences. Now published, proceeds from the sale of the book will be given to the charities that supported Rosie during her illness, including Evelina London Children's Charity.

Kathryn said:

"Evelina London gave us 9 more months with our daughter, which is immeasurable when we could have lost her at any moment. Having this book, the voice of a 14-year-old, is a gift and we hope it will support staff to understand what is important to a child and help other children also. Rosie just wanted to do good."

The family wrote to The Princess of Wales to praise the staff at Evelina London and the care they provided for Rosie. Kathryn, husband Gareth and their daughter Molly are all attending the service.

5 members of staff from Evelina London are also attending the special Christmas event.

They are:

  • Eleanor Gardner, school nurse
  • Veronica Williams, maternity support worker
  • Birgit Harlos, deputy ward sister on Sky cardiology ward
  • Gabriella Simon, nurse in children's outpatients
  • John Garrett, theatre support worker in the Children's Day Surgery Unit

They were nominated to be invited in recognition of their outstanding work in caring for children, young people and families.

Maya Asir, clinical specialist speech and language therapist, was also invited to the special festive service by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, in recognition of her work in supporting infant feeding and swallowing with some of Evelina London's smallest patients on the neonatal unit.

Nurse Gabriella Simon who has been working with children for 16 years, and works in children's outpatients at Evelina London, said: "It's such an honour to have been invited to attend the carol service at Westminster Abbey.

"I love working with children. It's so rewarding looking after the little ones, seeing them make progress and putting smiles on their faces. I am a bit of a nurturer, and look after everyone physically and mentally, both patients and colleagues alike. It's wonderful to be recognised for that."

Gubby Ayida, Chief Executive Officer at Evelina London, said: "I'd like to extend a huge thank you to The Princess of Wales for inviting some of our staff members to join the special carol concert at Westminster Abbey to mark the festive period.

Our teams go above and beyond in providing exceptional care to our children, young people and families, and being able to recognise their dedication at this time of year is really special. We know how incredibly important the work we do is for children like Rosie and their loved ones, and we will continue to give our very best. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Jarman family, and we continue to be inspired by their bravery and work continuing Rosie's legacy.

The Princess of Wales became the Royal Patron of Evelina London Children’s Hospital in December 2018, and recently opened the brand-new Children's Day Surgery Unit at Evelina London.

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