Network of family businesses helped Barkingside toddler get a dream Christmas present

PUBLISHED: 16:27 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 21 December 2017

Annabelle's parents can now have a hydrotherapy pool in their garden thanks to the generous donations. Picture: Michelle Thomas

Annabelle's parents can now have a hydrotherapy pool in their garden thanks to the generous donations. Picture: Michelle Thomas


Christmas 2017 will always be a memorable time for the Thomas family after a life-changing donation which will allow them to build a hydrotherapy pool for their daughter Annabelle.

Michelle and Chris, of Barkingside, were in a dark place last December when doctors diagnosed their baby with spinal muscular atrophy 1 (SMA1).

But thanks to a £15,000 gift from Charlie Mullins, CEO of Pimlico Plumbers, the family have a brighter future.

The kind act came about after a friend of the family, Anita Brightley-Hodges, visited Annabelle.

After learning about the 20-month-year-old’s condition, she said she felt “sick to my stomach” and decided to help out.

As managing director and founder of Family Business Place, she wrote to all her contacts asking if they could help. “We put together our own social media campaign and reached out to our community of over 5,000 family businesses in the UK,” she said.

“Without a moment’s hesitation Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers got in contact.

“Also wonderful mates Rami Ranger CBE and Sunny Ahuja of Sun Mark came to the rescue with a lifetime supply of Aptamil and many other family-run firms have given generously too.

“All family businesses share the same values and I’m just blessed we could stand united for this extraordinary family, it’s our very own Christmas story.”

Michelle is extremely grateful to Anita and Charlie for helping her daughter and said a year ago she was crying and now she is “overwhelmed in a good way” by the support and positive vibes she has received from the community.

The donation by Pimlico Plumbers was on top of a £10,000 sum raised at the company Christmas party.

It is also donating £1 from every job carried out in December.

Charlie said: “Annabelle is a wonderful little girl and we’re delighted to be able to help improve her quality of life.

“When the Tories said they didn’t want my money for their black and white ball I could only think of one place to use it instead.

“I know Annabelle and her family will really appreciate it.”

Related articles

Latest Ilford Stories

Jordan Wigham praised the display of 17-year-old Tyler Ford off the bench

The O’s should have James Brophy fit and raring to go for Saturday’s crunch clash

Hammers youngster comes through his troubles to show true class

Are we buying Perez excuse for not coming on at Everton?


A Clayhall shop employee has been fined for selling counterfeit vodka to customers who believed they were buying well-known, branded spirits.

Justin Edinburgh’s number two reflected on a spell just before half time of O’s clash with Barnet

More than 100 cadets and family members came together for the unveiling of a memorial in honour of an RAF pilot killed in a crash two years ago aged 25.


Much of the Essex club’s squad currently on deals that only run until end of season


Struggling to find a buyer for your home in a slower market? We speak to Ilford property expert Nina Kaura from Portico about the Crossrail effect and why getting things right first time will get you the best price for your property.

Exchange Ilford is a shopping centre on a mission to make it a more welcoming and accessible place to the people of Redbridge.

An Ilford shoe retailer and podiatry practice is taking the next step with a move to a new shop just a few doors down.

Newsletter Sign Up

Ilford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Ilford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now