The spirit of Christmas was very much in evidence on the children’s wards at both Frimley Park and Wexham Park hospitals in the days leading up to the festive holiday.
Once again, local communities rallied round in support of children who have to spend time in hospital at this time of year.
Individuals, local businesses and community groups donated all manner of gifts and toys to help make their hospital stay a little more bearable and even fun!
Frimley Park senior ward sister Jo Higson said: “This is my first Christmas at Frimley. I have worked at a number of hospitals previously and I have never known the level of community support that Frimley Park enjoys at this time of year.”
Early in December cast members from Camberley Theatre’s pantomime, Aladdin, visited children’s ward F1 to spend time with the children and pose for photographs. And Santa made a virtual visit from the North Pole via live video link to hear the children’s Christmas wishes courtesy of Cisco’s Connected Santa programme, while elf helpers and Mrs Claus shared gifts among the hospital’s youngest patients.
The ward’s festivities continued with a Christmas toy run by the Bagshot Breakfast Meet in ‘hotrods’, classic and American cars, a motorbike toy run from the Royal Standard pub in Camberley, and visits from Eagle Radio and both Aldershot and Farnborough football clubs.
And further generous donations of hundreds of presents, games, toys, DVDs and chocolates were brought in by supporters including the Community Matters Partnership, S C Johnson, Morrisons of Farnborough, BHS in Camberley, St Margaret’s infant school in Bracknell, Baby Sensory, along with donations from many local people.
Similar support and generosity was evident on children’s ward 24 at Wexham Park too.
Following their successful toy bank in 2014, staff from Tesco stores at Gerrards Cross and Amersham again brought crates of toys and gifts of all shapes and sizes that had been contributed by customers and staff the month before.
Tesco community champion Jackie Nolan said: “We were absolutely overwhelmed by the support from our staff and customers and delighted that we can once again bring some Christmas cheer to children in our local hospital at this time.”
And Alex Thorne, general manager of local family business The Park located across the road from the hospital where many staff park, brought along 10 ‘Build a Bear Workshop’ teddies, iTunes vouchers and packs of chocolates for young patients as a result of fundraising by staff and family members.
More generous donations of presents, games, soft toys, books and stickers were brought in by supporters including F W Bartlett property maintenance, Pumpkins Pre-School and Rapid Search and Interim in Windsor.
A local choir is also due to serenade Wexham Park’s youngest patients and of course Father Christmas will make a personal appearance on Christmas Day.
Ros Rushworth, clinical matron for paediatrics said: “We really do appreciate the kindness and amazing generosity of our local community. A stay in hospital can be hard at the best of times but for children in particular, it can be especially difficult at this time of year.
Ros and Jo added: “We are so grateful to everybody who helped to bring some extra special Christmas cheer to children in our hospitals over Christmas. It means so much to them and their families and our staff too, so a huge thank you from all of us.”