Ronald McDonald House Story – Berry Family

A recent family weekend away in Chillagoe located in Far North Queensland, ended abruptly for the Berry family when daughter Saoirse suffered severe burns to her hands and feet after walking through the remains of an extinguished campfire.

Due to the extent of her injuries, Saoirse was urgently airlifted to Townsville Hospital for treatment where she spent the next three weeks and underwent three operations on her traumatic burns.

Following the chaos of the abrupt end to their family holiday, the Berry family, from Trinity Beach in Cairns were now 350km from home in a situation of where they needed to find accommodation close to their daughter in hospital.

“We were so privileged to be able to stay right across the road from Saoirse at Ronald McDonald House Townsville,” said dad Conan.

“The facilities there and the support myself, my wife Marika and eldest daughter Niamh received from the staff, volunteers and supporters was just amazing! It really became our home away from home in a time of great stress."

As well as the House facilities to care for their needs, the Berry’s utilised the Ronald McDonald Family Room on a daily basis attached to the Children’s Ward at the Townsville Hospital.

“We were able to access not only a kind listening ear but other necessities such as food, drinks, laundry facilities and quiet spaces to deal with the situation we found ourselves in,” said Conan.

“Without the support of the House and Family Room, we cannot even imagine how hard things would have been - both facilities allowed us to focus on our daughter’s care and recovery, as well as our eldest daughter’s and our own wellbeing”.

Upon Saoirse’s discharge, the Berry family stayed an extra week at the House where they enjoyed the facilities available as a family. This allowed them to transition back to some form of normality whilst outpatient services were underway.

Saoirse is now on her way to recovery. While there is a long way to go in managing the care of her injuries over the next few years, the Berry family is so grateful that they could, along with RMHC North Australia, begin this journey as a family.

“We cannot thank RMHC North Australia enough for all they have done for our family during what was a very traumatic time”. Conan said.

It is stories like Saoirse’s that remind us, how important having support from the community really is to all of our families. If you can provide assistance in any way - whether that be through volunteering, offering services from your businesses or donating funds - to help us keep families like the Berry’s together in a time of need, please visit