Mum of child who was severely burned in a kitchen accident at 15 months old launches ‘Charlie’s Story’, a new nationwide campaign
Ahead of next week’s National Burn Awareness Day 2022 (Wednesday 12th October), Michelle Whalley, mum of burn survivor Charlie, and the Children’s Burns Trust announce the launch of a new book, ‘Charlie’s Story’ which has been written, designed and produced by Michelle and Charlie about an accident Charlie was in at home in their kitchen when he was just 15 months old.
Michelle, who lives with her family in the North West of England, created Charlie’s Story in order to raise awareness of the everyday dangers in the home that can lead to a child being burned or scalded resulting in life-long issues, and to inspire other burn survivors and their families.
Exclusive data shows that last year more than 47% of burns and scalds to children took place in the kitchen
Exclusive data from the International Burn Injury Database (iBID), shows that in 2021 more than 3500 babies and children experienced severe burn or scald injuries at home in their own kitchen and were admitted to a Specialist Burns Unit. This figure doesn’t include the thousands seen in A&E departments.
The Children’s Burns Trust and British Burn Association, have released this exclusive insight leading up to National Burns Awareness Day 2022 (Wednesday 12th October) to raise awareness of the devastating number of children that are, on a daily basis, affected by life-altering burn and scald injuries, as a result of accidents that take place in the kitchen.
Michelle’s son Charlie (now 14 years old – pictured) was 15 months old when a pan of boiling water spilt in the kitchen and he sustained burns to 10% of his body. The burns to his right shoulder, right upper arm and right side of body were full thickness in depth and required skin graft surgery. He sustained further burns down his right arm, right hand and neck which healed spontaneously.
Charlie spent 3 weeks on the burns unit at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after the accident attending the burns outpatient department which was a 200-mile round trip to Manchester each time. His treatment continued for many years and Charlie’s Story documents this journey and his childhood.
“Charlie loves life and is living it to the full. He is scarred for life, but he is not ashamed of his scar and is happy and confident to tell his story. I hope that by sharing our story we can maybe prevent an accident happening in another home. We are forever grateful to the incredible skill and kindness shown to us by the NHS staff at both Furness General Hospital and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Charlie received world-class treatment. We want to give back, to say thank you, but also to spare another child and family from going through the pain and trauma that we have experienced”.
A keen sportsman, Charlie is a dedicated Academy player at Preston North End Football Club where he trains and plays every week in the under 14 squad. Football is a hobby which has played a pivotal role in Charlie’s recovery.
The Preston North End Community and Education Trust (PNECET) are supporting the launch of Charlie’s Story with a programme of activities, involving players and education-led events leading up to its home fixture against Stoke City on 15th October, which will be dedicated to Charlie’s Story and fundraising for the Children’s Burns Trust.
PNECET Chief Executive Tom Drake said:
“We are pleased to see the publication of ‘Charlie’s Story’ come to fruition with the launch of his and his mum Michelle’s book. Charlie’s story raises awareness about the pertinent issue of children’s burns injuries, both with how to deal with them from an individual’s and family’s perspective, and preventive measures. It is also inspiring to see the individual experiences of Charlie shared within the book and how he has developed as a talented young footballer in the Preston North End Academy.
“At PNECET, we want to help as many people as possible to achieve their goals, regardless of their individual circumstances or any health-related inequalities they may face. We’re confident that sharing Charlie’s Story across our community provision will be a fantastic educational resource that will inspire many to pursue their individual goals.”
Preston North End Academy Manager Nick Harrison said:
“Everyone at the Preston North End Academy is incredibly proud of Charlie for the bravery and courage he has shown to share his story, which we are confident will carry a vital and inspiring message for other children and their families who have experienced a burns injury.
“Charlie is a shining example for all of our players in the Academy as someone who continues to develop both as a footballer, but just as importantly, as an outstanding young person off the pitch as well who is sharing his own experiences for the benefit of others.”
The Children’s Burns Trust, together with the Whalley family have timed the release of Charlie’s Story to kickstart a programme of activity around National Burn Awareness Day to urge parents to keep children safe with essential safety reminders as well the importance of knowing the right first aid if a burn or scald does occur.
Ken Dunn, Consultant Burn and Plastic Surgeon (retired) and Trustee of The Children’s Burns Trust:
“The number of babies and children sustaining burns and scalds each and every day is alarming. The majority of accidents happen in the home, and this year’s National Burn Awareness Day is drawing attention to the fact that the kitchen presents a number of very real dangers. By raising awareness of the different risks to children that can happen in the kitchen, particularly in the process of food preparation where we see the vast majority of accidents happening, we can help to reduce the number of devastating injuries that take place each year.”
Speaking of her first-hand experience, Michelle says: “I urge my fellow parents to take extra care in your kitchens. It is scary how quickly accidents can happen and how damaging hot liquid is. The injuries are excruciating and involve long-lasting treatments, and the scarring is for life. Keep your pans at the back of the hob and your handles tucked away and well out of reach of inquisitive hands and minds”.
Hundreds of NHS Services, Fire and Rescue Services, along with other organisations, come together each year on National Burn Awareness Day to raise awareness of the alarming number of people burned each and every day in the UK – the vast majority of which are preventable. The campaign promotes the vital message of the importance of good first aid if a burn or scald does occur: COOL for 20 minutes under cool running water, CALL 999 OR 111 or your GP for advice, COVER the burn loosely with cling film.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Charlie’s Story is available upon request via the Children’s Burns Trust here: https://www.cbtrust.org.uk/contact-us/
It is a free resource but people are kindly asked to make a donation to the Children’s Burns Trust on the Charlie’s Story JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/charliesstory
Michelle Whalley and her son Charlie (pictured) are available for TV, Press and Radio interviews. For more information please contact: