DGH backtracks on fundraisers’ money

Monica Corrina-Kavakli with Jessie and Samuel at the Save the DGH campaign stand at Airbourne 2008
Monica Corrina-Kavakli with Jessie and Samuel at the Save the DGH campaign stand at Airbourne 2008

A GRIEVING couple who fundraised for a bereavement suite at the DGH have been told their £7,000 will not be returned to them, despite the hospital trust doing nothing with their money for the past seven years.

Monica Corrina-Kavakli and her husband Aydin set about raising cash for the new family room in 2003 after suffering the heartache of several traumatic miscarriages and the tragic death of their young daughter Ella in 2002.

The pair hit out at the NHS trust which runs the District General Hospital for dragging its heels on the project and the trust’s chief executive Darren Grayson said last month the donation would be returned.

However the couple has now received another letter from Mr Grayson via their solicitor stating the trust has since sought independent legal advice which says there is no legal basis for them to return the money.

Monica Corrina-Kavakli, who also played a prominent role in the Save the DGH campaign, said, “We were quite literally lost for words.

“After eight years of torment over this, the relief over the last few weeks has been immense.

“We had already held meetings and begun plans for the production of a memory book, we had reactivated the trust account that the funds would have been held in and we have already made arrangements to enable us to be completely transparent over our intentions and spending of any monies.

“Right now, we both feel emotionally exhausted.

“My husband attempts to remain strong for my sake but the need for some peace from something that was supposed to aid in our grieving process all those years ago is extreme.

“I personally feel as if they have worn me into the ground and are depriving me of the energy I need day to day to deal with the loss of our daughter.”

The couple now say their fight is over and the hospital trust has won because they can not put themselves through it any longer.

Ms Corrina-Kavakli said, “We cannot allow this to interfere with the happiness that our other three precious children deserve. Ella’s memory, for now, simply lives on in them.”

The couple now hope the hospital trust will do something positive with Ella’s money but say they remain sceptical.

They have thanked the midwives and doctors at the hospital but have called the people running the trust ‘ruthless and deceitful’.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said, “My heart goes out to Monica, Ayden and their family who tirelessly raised the money for the bereavement suite.

“Once it was clear nothing was happening they were told they may as well have the money back so it could be put to better use, only then to be told they couldn’t have it back because of legal issues.

“I have personally urged the chief executive of the trust to prioritise the matter and resolve it promptly, to save the family from further upset.”

A spokesperson from the hospital trust said, “We understand this situation is extremely distressing for Mrs Corrina-Kavakli and her family.

“However, the Trust is committed to building a new bereavement room and work is due to start next month and should be completed by mid-November, at a total cost of £53,000.

“We are very grateful for the kind donation from Mrs Corrina-Kavakli to our charitable funds.

“The Trust’s charitable funds, a registered charity, are governed by legislation which stipulates what can and can’t be done with donations.

“This fund is completely separate to the Trust’s day-to-day financial accounts.

“We have sought legal advice from the Charities Commission and independent lawyers regarding returning the donation and unfortunately under the legislation that governs our charitable funds we do not believe we are able to return the money.

“We are currently asking our independent lawyers to write to Mrs Corrina-Kavakli and explain the reasons for this.

“If she or her legal advisors are able to demonstrate a way we can return the donation legally, we are more than happy to do so.”