St Albans GOSH star Gabz speaks at opening of new hospital ward

Gabriella Farrugia speaking at the new GOSH ward. Picture: Ash Knotek

Gabriella Farrugia speaking at the new GOSH ward. Picture: Ash Knotek - Credit: Ash Knotek

A seriously ill youngster brought a 200-strong audience to tears when speaking at an opening ceremony for a new hospital ward.

Twelve-year-old St Albans resident Gabriella Farrugia spoke about her experiences living at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) at the opening of its new ward, the Premiere Inn Clinical Building in The Mittal Children’s Medical Centre.

She has a life-threatening auto-immune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) and has spent three years fighting the illness both as an inpatient and outpatient at GOSH.

Gabriella, who prefers Gabz, has won a Herts Ad Community Award, an Inspire the House - Most Inspirational Young Person award at the Kids Count Inspiration Awards, and a St Albans Mayor’s Young Person of Distinction Award after fronting a GOSH campaign to raise funds for research and development.

She addressed key donors and benefactors about what the new build meant for children like her, only hours after receiving a transfusion: “It was quite nerve-racking, but I thought about why I wanted to do it and that got me through it. I like talking to audiences anyway so I looked at it like a fun thing to do. I wanted to take part because I thought it was important everyone who helped this new building knew how important it was to us and how valuable to us.”

The old ward had shared rooms, with thin curtains separating families who were often unknown to each other.

She added: “When you are in hospital you want to relax and not worry about having your own space, and feel at home in hospital.”

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Gabz’s mum, Lyn, 49, added: “When we lived at GOSH, we lived in an incredibly old suite. Now there’s this brand new, state of the art, all-singing, all-dancing, every room has en suite, ward. It is incredible, absolutely phenomenal. We are not sitting on top of each other any more, there’s room to move.”

She said how proud she was watching Gabz: “She didn’t read her notes, she had the audience in the palm of her hand. She made them laugh and cry, she spoke so eloquently about what the new ward meant to people living at GOSH.”

Lyn also spoke and added: “I was not nervous at all, not for me. My perspective has changed completely having lived at GOSH and seeing my daughter going through everything, it all pales into insignificance. You don’t freak out about anything at all and I am so passionate about GOSH, I was talking about things I know really well and I am there to thank all the people who have made a massive difference.”