Buy a Spider Monkey T-shirt and help families with critically ill children stay together.

Andrew Clarke

Spider Monkey is more than a cute icon to us – it’s a sign of love and hope. Today I want to share the story behind our brand and why I have created a limited-edition T-shirt to support Ronald McDonald House Charities – a children’s charity very close to my family’s hearts.

In 2015 my daughter Evie was born 10 weeks premature. Her arrival into the world was complicated. My wife Emma had a Chorioangioma – a benign tumour of the placenta that was the size of an orange. Without an emergency C-section at Queen Alexandra Hospital both she and Evie would have died.

Over the next nine weeks, Evie was very ill. She was in an incubator and received two double blood transfusions. And our little fighter was also born with a sensitive CMN birthmark on her face.

We were so happy and relieved when we were finally able to take her home.

But just four weeks later, Evie stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated and was rushed back into the hospital. QA transferred her to the specialist Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Southampton General Hospital, where an avalanche of tests began.

It was at Southampton General that we were introduced to Ronald McDonald House Charities (www.rmhc.org.uk). I’d never heard of them before, but I’m so glad they were there for us.

They gave us a room in Ronald McDonald House Southampton, for the 10 weeks Evie was in the hospital. It was a place to have a warm shower, cook a meal and cry on the bad days. We were also able to meet families in a similar boat to us and form genuine friendships that helped us cope when we might have otherwise felt very alone.

There were joyful moments there too. When Evie started to get better, we could take her off the ward for a few hours and just lay on the bed together. It felt like home.

After 10 weeks, we were able to go home. The paediatric teams at Southampton General and Great Ormond Street Hospital discovered Evie has a very rare genetic disorder, similar to Russell Silver Syndrome that affects her growth. She also has multiple allergies.

All of this means she’s being monitored continuously.

So where does Spider Monkey come from? Evie loves going to the zoo and has grown to love Spider Monkeys, it was at one of these occasions that we decided to create the Spider Monkey clothing brand and give some money back to RMHC.

During the past six years, we have kept in touch with Ronald McDonald House Charities. They are an incredible organisation continuing to offer families like us stay to together when a child is critically ill.

The past 12 months have been challenging for the charity. Their usual fundraising activities have been affected by the pandemic, making it more challenging to help families stay close when a child is in hospital.

While physical fundraising events are not possible, I wanted to help. I have designed a limited-edition Spider Monkey T-shirt to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities and thank them for everything they did for Evie and us.

There are five colours available for men and three colours available for women.

For each T-shirt sold I’ll be donating 20% of the profit to Ronald McDonald House Charities. If Evie’s story has inspired you in these difficult times, please join my family in supporting the work of this vital children’s charity.