Garden buildings company ruins make-a-wish for St Albans teen with brain cancer
PUBLISHED: 16:01 13 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:21 13 August 2015
A St Albans teenager who has spent nearly two years battling a malignant brain tumour has had his dreams of relaxing in a log cabin ruined by a heartless garden building firm.
Despite being paid to provide a cabin by a make-a-wish charity, the firm deposited a pile of untreated wood in the boy’s garden in February, where it remained unbuilt for months.
The actions of Garden Buildings Direct have angered Sharron Brunton, whose son Chad Martindale had a tumour removed in 2013 – just five years after his older sister, Tilly, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour.
Chad’s tumour was discovered after the Sandringham School pupil, then aged 12, noticed he was suffering similar symptoms to his sister, including constant headaches and nausea.
After having a malignant Medulloblastoma removed from his brain in a 10-hour-long operation, Chad underwent six weeks of intensive radiotherapy, and one year of chemotherapy.
When the Herts Advertiser visited the brave teen two years ago, he was using a wheelchair to get around, and had a feeding peg in his stomach.
His health has improved since then, and he is now able to walk unaided.
During his treatment and recovery, Chad dedicated time to fundraise for CLIC Sargent, a cancer charity for children and young people, and the oncology wards of both Addenbrooke and Lister Hospitals, where he has been receiving treatment.
The 14 year old, who is looking forward to spending more time at Sandringham from the start of the new school year, had three possible wishes registered with Rays of Sunshine.
The charity makes wishes come true for children who are living with a serious or life-limiting illness, to give them a “happy memory and their family an unforgettable experience”.
But, unfortunately for Chad, his wish has become an unforgettable experience – for all the wrong reasons.
Sharron said that when Rays of Sunshine told her it had arranged for a log cabin to be built for her son, Chad was taken away for the day in February for the structure to be delivered and built, as a surprise on his return.
All he found, however, was a pile of wood.
Sharron said: “I asked the truck driver who was going to put it up, and he said ‘the guys will do it later’. I waited all day for someone, but no one turned up. Chad came back and he was really excited about having his wish for a log cabin come true.”
Realising that Garden Buildings Direct was not going to build the cabin immediately, Sharron bought a cover to protect the wood from the elements.
Over the following months, Rays of Sunshine tried to organise the firm to build the cabin.
Sharron said: “I got a phone call in April to say someone would be sent out to assemble it the next day, but it was on a day we had arranged to be away from our house, so it was not suitable. Giving us just a day’s notice wasn’t enough time.
“Garden Buildings Direct eventually said if we could get someone else to put it up, they would reimburse us.
“But, when the builder started, he warned it had no support for the back wall, he found the timber had warped as it appeared to be untreated and it is like a glorified shed – not a log cabin. It wasn’t strong enough for what Chad wanted.
“I’m scared the whole thing will collapse. I am absolutely distraught. It has ruined Chad’s surprise, after he has been through two years of hell.”
The teen had hoped to have a cabin large and sturdy enough to spend time in with friend and to accommodate a pool table and dartboard.
Sharron said that the Round Table Children’s Wish charity has recently indicated it could try to help, but as it could not provide the same level of funding as Rays of Sunshine, the family would need to dip into Chad’s trust fund – currently being used to pay for his rehabilitation – to help pay for a replacement cabin.
She added: “It has been a nightmare. Garden Buildings has not even phoned to apologise.”
Jane Sharpe, CEO of Rays of Sunshine, said it was a “shame the cabin did not meet the family’s expectations as the charity always tries its hardest to make children’s wishes become a reality”.
At the time of going to press, there was no response from Garden Buildings Direct.