Actors Sarah Parish and James Murray have managed to raise a staggering £2million in just two years to build a specialist paediatric hospital in the UK.
The married couple returned to ITV’s This Morning on Thursday, after their emotional first appearance in 2016, to share the incredible news that they had raised their target figure, which will be matched by the government.
They told how they hit their deadline thanks to an eleventh hour donation from a ‘white knight’, the billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe – CEO of the Ineos chemicals group and Britain’s richest businessman.
Sarah said on the show: ‘We haven’t been able to say until today who it was so we just want to say thank you to Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos for giving us that final push.’
Sarah and James founded the Murray Parish Trust and kick-started ‘Two Million Steps’ campaign after their daughter Ella-Jayne passed away in her cot at home in 2008 aged just eight months, after battling a congenital heart defect.
Sarah and James, who also have an eight-year-old daughter Nell, said that since they decided to launch the charity as part of their late daughter’s legacy they have been overwhelmed with support.
Sarah Parish and husband James Murray returned to This Morning to share the incredible news that they had raised £2m by their deadline of two years which will be matched by the government
The couple set up their charity Murray Parish Trust and kicks-started the Two Million Steps campaign in 2016 to raise funds to build a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Southampton. Pictured, an artists’ impression of the building
They told how they hit their deadline thanks to an eleventh hour donation from a ‘white knight’, the billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe – CEO of the Ineos chemicals group and Britain’s richest businessman
The Broadchurch actress said they had no idea if they could raise the money to meet their deadline: ‘We were staring down the barrel of something that was terrifying to us.
‘I thought this was going to take us ten years because we were just community fundraisers. What we have now, we had no idea that the charity would snowball in the way that it has for us.’
James added: ‘It’s grown exponentially, the support we have had has amplified the size. It’s been mind-blowing.’
The sum will go towards building a major Paediatric Intensive Care Unit to serve the south east of England that will be the equal of Great Ormond Street in London.
Construction has already begun on the new ward, set to cost more than £5m.
Sarah and James pictured at the Houses of Parliament during the launch of the Two Million Steps campaign, which they’ve been overwhelmed with support for in just two years
The couple, who are parents to daughter Nell, said that by focusing on the charity they have been able to deal with their grief and building a legacy for Ella-Jayne
Two years later, after endless fundraising, the couple have reached their goal and raised a staggering £2 million. Construction has now begun on the new ward which costs more than £5m
WHO IS SIR JIM RATCLIFFE?
Sir Jim Ratcliffe was knighted by the Duke of Cambridge during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on October 31, 2018
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 65, a joiner’s son who grew up in a council house, was named the richest man in Britain in the Sunday Times Rich List this year with a fortune of £21.05billion.
His wealth increased from £15.3billion last year, partly because of a revaluation of assets including property and two super-yachts.
He spent his earliest years in a council house on Dunkerley Avenue in Failsworth, a small town between Manchester and Oldham.
His father was a joiner, his mother had an office job working in accounts.
He obtained a 2:1 in chemical engineering from the University of Birmingham and, after for working for BP in the summer holidays, was offered a permanent job – only to be sacked within three days.
Sir Ratcliffe, who was knighted on October 31 this year by the Duke of Cambridge, eventually got a job with Courtaulds, the Coventry-based fabric and chemical manufacturer where he stayed into his mid-30s before moving into venture capital.
It was only in 1998 that he founded Ineos, which has an annual turnover of £45billion and employs more than 18,500 people at 181 sites across 22 countries.
Its products are used to clean water, make toothpaste, manufacture antibiotics, insulate homes and package food.
The businessman is a high-profile supporter of Brexit and has recently begun to buy well-known British brands, such as designer clothing firm Belstaff.
Ella-Jayne was born five weeks prematurely and following a traumatic delivery, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition meaning she required complex surgery and medical treatment to save her life.
The couple agreed that focusing on fundraising and working on the legacy for their daughter had helped them deal with their grief.
‘Undoubtedly the grief changes as time goes by. To create a legacy in memory of Ella-Jayne. Helps you deal with something you should never have to deal with.’
Their daughter was cared for in a paediatric care unit for four months before being allowed to go home where she sadly passed away four months later; the couple wanted to find a way to give back to those who had helped her during her short life.
The money raised will go towards creating a state-of-the-art trauma centre at University Hospital Southampton, where it is estimated 30,000 young patients will use the ward each year.
They thanked their ‘white knight’ on the daytime show, revealing how Mr Ratcliffe helped them reach their target just weeks away from their deadline.
This Morning airs weekdays on ITV at 10.30am