A ten-year-old ”fussy eater” raised money for a hospital which cared for her sick brother – by eating food she hates including Marmite, sprouts, olives and spam.
Jessie Atkins-Bromley gagged as she ate a range of things she detests – like chilli crisps, apples with mayonnaise and a Bounty Bar.
Her little brother Charlie Bromley was diagnosed with Tethered Cord last year – which led to extreme constipation and caused him a lot of pain.
After Charlie’s major surgery in February, Jessie, from Wallingford, Oxfordshire, wanted to do a challenge to raise money for the hospital that helped her brother.
The notoriously fussy eater completed a food challenge where she encouraged people to dare her to eat foods she hates – including olives, chilli crisps, apples with mayonnaise – and SPAM.
But she didn’t turn her nose up at a single challenge – and ended up more than TRIPLING her goal of £200 raised for the hospital.
Mum Lauren Atkins, 27, said: “When Charlie was home from the surgery Jessie said she wanted to raise money for the hospital.
“At first all she said is she knew she didn’t want to do any running – so she opted to do something a bit different that she could have fun with.
“She is such a fussy eater and people were suggesting love it or hate it foods like Marmite, olives and Spam.
“She’s done really well with it – she hasn’t said no to anything.
“Jessie couldn’t believe she had raised more than £700 for the hospital – it’s great to be able to give something back after what they did for Charlie.”
Charlie was born with a sacral dimple – an indentation in his skin at the bottom of his back – but at first the family were told it was nothing to worry about.
But he began to suffer with constipation last year and in the end a health visitor helped the family get a referral for an MRI scan for the tot.
After an MRI at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford in September 2021, he was diagnosed with tethered cord syndrome – where, for Charlie, a fatty mass by his spinal cord was pulling on it and preventing it from growing normally.
Lauren said: “It was nice to have a name for it and have some understanding of what it was, finally.
“But equally it was terrifying because the condition can have lifelong effects.”
He was booked in for a major surgery at the hospital on February 23 2022, to ‘detether’ the nerves and spinal cord from the mass.
Luckily the risky surgery was a success and he began the recovery process at home soon after.
But Lauren told how it left big sister Jessie “struggling to sleep” because the experience was so “unsettling” for the family.
But a few days after Charlie returned home, Jessie proposed an idea – she wanted to raise some money to thank the hospital.
Lauren said: “All she knew is she didn’t want to run and she wanted to do something a bit different.
“She is such a fussy eater so she decided to do a food challenge – it would be something she wouldn’t necessarily enjoy, but she could have fun with.”
A JustGiving page was set up for Jessie so friends and family could donate some money – and dare her to eat a food she hates.
Picky eater Jessie ended up scoffing Brussels sprouts, Marmite on toast, apple and mayonnaise, black olives and even Spam in the name of fundraising.
Mum Lauren said: “They normally recommended kind of ‘love it or hate it’ foods.
“William and I challenged her to eat tomato ketchup, which she despises.”
After many unpleasant snacks, Jessie has blown her original target of £200 out the water – raising £797.50, including Gift Aid, for the hospital.
Proud mum Lauren said: “She has done so well with it.
“She hasn’t said no to anything.
“When we told Jessie how much she had raised, she couldn’t believe it and she was just amazed.
“We’re so proud of her – it’s nice to give back to such an amazing hospital.”
Lauren added: “We hoped it would raise a bit of awareness about tethered cord syndrome.
“It is not unheard of but it is easily missed.
“If one person hears our story and goes to get checked out then we have done our job.”
To donate visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jessiebromley