As a journalist – and TVNZ's Europe correspondent – Joy Reid sees a lot in her job that she wished she didn't.
She's used to being the one reporting on the heartache of others, but her latest project puts her in the thick of the action, lending a hand.
Along with friend Christina Buckland, the Cantabrian is on a quest to help desperate mums during their most difficult times − while their kids are in hospital.
The pair launched the charity One Mother to Another after Christina's experience in Christchurch's Children's Acute Assessment Unit, where her baby Arabelle was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis.
"It was horrendous for her," Joy (33) tells the Weekly, on the phone from Europe, adding that her daughter was given a gift bag which was an amazing gesture, but in that frightening moment Christina realised she could have done with a bit of love and support too.
"Christina was in tears – think about having to watch a doctor perform a lumbar puncture on your daughter."
So the next week, with her daughter fully recovered, Christina took 10 goodie bags filled with little treats such as face cream, coffee sachets and jewellery, as well as encouraging handwritten letters into the unit, then told Joy of her idea.
"We made up another 20 and took those in too, and then after the great response from those mums and nurses, we realised we needed to take it further – and for that we needed money, because our husbands were not that okay with us maxing out the credit card!"
Joy, who is based in London with husband Geoffrey and their two kids, Jonathan (5) and Stella (2), was motivated in part to join Christina's crusade as she also had a traumatic experience in hospital with Jonathan.
"His birth didn't go very well," she nods. "He wasn't breathing when he was born, and he was rushed to NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit]. It was horrific – I felt like a grizzly bear who had their baby cub taken away. So I really wanted to expand our gift bags into the NICU unit."
Two years on from their humble beginnings, Christina and Joy – who helps out from the other side of the world – now produce 170 gift bags for mums every month. Joy was even offered one herself, when she ended up in hospital again, this time with daughter Stella, who caught pneumonia and stayed in the clinical assessment unit for eight days.
"I remember the nursing staff asking me, 'Do you want a gift bag?'" Joy smiles. "I said no, seeing as I put them together, but I was thinking, 'Oh, that would be nice!'"
The pair knew they needed more money and resources to keep their charity going, so it was time for big ideas.
"Christina, who is definitely the ideas person, goes, 'Let's do a cookbook!' So we started down the cookbook route, and we realised that it was a far bigger task. Then we thought, 'You know what, so is starting a charity. We've come this far, why not?'"
With Joy helping out when she could in between working 70-hour weeks and with stay-at-home dad Geoffrey becoming Christina's "right-hand man", the project began to take off.
Former MasterChef finalist Jax Hamilton came on board to lend a hand, and Joy used her contacts at TVNZ to help find celebrities who would donate a recipe or two. However, Christina's ambition went beyond well-known Kiwis and she set her sights on one of the world's most-loved cooks.
"She wanted Nigella Lawson!" Joy laughs. "I said, 'Right, okay, good luck!' I like to describe Christina like a dog with a bone – in the nicest possible way – so she emailed and emailed until she got through to Nigella, who donated some recipes."
The duo also recruited their friends who had the skills they needed – designers and proofreaders – to get the book in good shape, and finally launched Eats in August. With more than 100 recipes from the likes of Nigella, Hilary Barry, Toni Street, Annabel Langbein, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Simon Gault, the tome is impressive – and, as Joy is happy to report, flying off the shelves at Whitcoulls.
"We're really proud of it," says Joy. "If we just help one mum, it's worth it, but now we're able to help so many more."
With a year left to go in her current post, Joy is keen to make the most of life in London before she heads back to New Zealand.
"We love it here – I just never thought I'd be doing this job as a mother of two kids! But I've actually been amazed at how well it's working. Stay-at-home-dads aren't unusual here; there are even dads' groups!
"But family life has always been a team effort for us – we've been married 11 years now and we've switched the roles around from time to time."
The kids have adjusted remarkably well, she adds – with Jonathan even picking up an adorable British accent.
"He sounds like Peppa Pig all the time now," she laughs. "And he'll come home from school and say things like, 'Mum, I'm feeling poorly.' They're doing great, and my hours are strange anyway, because I work to New Zealand time too. You just do what you have to do!"
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