meet our patron

Dan Renton Skinner is an actor, comedian and writer and is a regular on our screens and the comedy circuits. Here Dan provides his story on why he wants to support Harry’s Pals.

My name is Dan Skinner, comedian, writer and actor and I’d like to explain why I have decided to become a patron of Harry’s Pals. My son was born in 2015. It was, what might be described as a traumatic birth, very quick with the umbilical chord wrapped around his neck – he was blue and floppy. Elation and terror all at once. A couple of days in the ICU however and he seemed fine. We took him home. 

As he grew it became obvious that he wasn’t hitting his markers – he didn’t walk when he was supposed to and didn’t talk. He also had viral wheeze/bronchitis and so we were in and out of A and E frequently throughout the winter months. It was on one of these visits that a consultant realised he hadn’t hit his markers and suggested we give him an MRI, just in case. We were shocked, found it hard to process but agreed, assuming that everything would come back normal. 

You don’t expect your child to be anything other than perfect, because that’s all you’ve dreamt about through pregnancy, and we had no reason to think otherwise. When the results of the MRI came back, we were dumbstruck. Ted had a thin corpus collosum, the bit that separates the two hemispheres of the brain and reduced white matter. Scarring on the brain essentially. It would have a serious impact on his speech, cognition and motor skills. Had something had happened in the pregnancy, had we done something wrong?

“If there had been something available to us like what Harry’s Pals are offering it would have made life a bit easier for us”.

In actual fact it turned out to be genetic, and for the best part of two years we were in and out of Gt Ormond St trying to get to the bottom of things, to find out a prognosis. Everyone at Gt Ormond st were wonderful and they couldn’t have been more helpful in regards to finding out what was wrong with Ted. 

The problem is that as a parent, you’re on your own. The experience of discovering that your life as a parent is not going to be as you had imagined is traumatic, scary and bewildering, and there is no emotional support available for parents who have to go through this very very scary and uncertain time. Nothing. It puts immense strain on a relationship and some couples don’t make it. 

If we had known about Harry’s Pals when we were going through our difficulties, or if there had been something available to us like what Harry’s Pals are offering it would have made life a bit easier for us and offered us support and just a feeling of not being alone, because that’s what you feel. You feel like you’re on your own, you’re the only people going through this, and it would have been really helpful to know that we were weren’t. 

That’s why I felt compelled to get involved with Harry’s Pals and help in any way that I could.