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.”

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