Businesses rally for little battler Natalya


The Frankton business community is stepping in to help the family of a blind Queenstown girl being forced out of their Auckland respite accommodation. 

Seven-year-old Natalya Skelton, her solo mum Kirsten Anderson and brother Kiran, 11, have been told to vacate their apartment at Ronald McDonald House by next Saturday after Southern District Health Board’s shock decision to stop subsidising her stay. 

The family has been living at the haven for sick kids and families since January this year, after ground-breaking surgery to partially restore her sight. 

Natalya lost sight in her left eye in 2006 after alleged misdiagnosis and “inadequate” medical testing in Queenstown. 

Anderson says SDHB hasn’t backed down on its decision to yank funding and says she has no money and nowhere to live once they leave Ronald McDonald House. 

After reading Mountain Scene’s story last week, Remarkable Takeaways owner Mark Scott rallied around neighbouring businesses in Frankton Village. 

He’s enlisted the support of Orphans Aid International charity founder and trustee Sue van Schreven, who’s set up a special Westpac account for Natalya. The pair is circulating white donation buckets to businesses keen to help out. 

“We’re hoping that we can get enough money to help the family out with accommodation, food and things like that,” Van Schreven says. 

Meanwhile, SDHB chief medical officer Murray Fosbender says he hasn’t been updated on the situation since asking for a review last week. 

“I’m happy the people she’s dealing with in the hospital are reliable people and are certainly not ill-disposed to anybody. They’ve got a programme to maintain so that’s what they’re doing but I will talk to [the staff member involved] again to clarify what’s going on.” 

He’d been told Natalya’s essential medical care is complete and she can be treated as an outpatient in Queenstown. Anderson won’t return to the resort for Natalya’s care – last week saying: “I don’t want to come back and be a victim of SDHB’s inability to look after Natalya inappropriately.” 

Donations can be made at any Westpac branch. Mountain Scene’s office also has a donation bucket.

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