Rockinghorse children’s charity is supporting a very special project, which is benefiting families who are staying in hospital with their poorly child or baby at Christmas.
Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was set up five years ago by parents Lucy and Simon Pond in memory of their little boy Aidan. In partnership with Rockinghorse, they raise funds to gift families at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton with festive hampers.
The project has proved so successful that hampers are also gifted to families in the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit and for the first time this year, they will be given to families in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
The hampers contain practical treats for parents such as; tea, coffee, a cafetiere, homemade mince pies, brownies, Christmas pudding, and hand cream. Christmas dinner is even prepared and cooked by volunteers for families on site. The project’s founder, Lucy, who now works at Rockinghorse as the charity’s challenge events fundraising manager, explains more:
“My son Aidan was tragically diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Mitochondrial disease, aged just one. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure for Mitochondrial, meaning that he was a terminally ill child. Aidan passed away at the Alex on 1 March 2014.
“The dedicated team of children’s hospital nurses and doctors are amazing, and we’ll never forget the joy and warmth at Christmas. However, with the stress of the situation, we found that we were unable to share a Christmas meal together as a family.
“We hadn’t prepared ourselves with food to take to the hospital and we simply weren’t able to make the time to prepare a Christmas meal. As a result, we spoke with the head of nursing at the Alex and to Rockinghorse as the hospital’s official charity, about our experience and how it could be made better.
“Together we came up with the idea of providing hampers to parents which would be full of treats to be taken home or enjoyed at the hospital. In addition, we decided that a hot Christmas dinner could be cooked on site on the day itself. From there, Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was born.”
Each year, hampers containing items that are non-perishable are donated to families on Christmas Eve. They are put together in partnership with Caroline Davenport from Davenports Catering, who has supported the project from the beginning. As an added treat, Middle Farm near Lewes supply vouchers for a family day out.
Thanks to the support of Ronald McDonald House within the Alex, a team of five volunteers kindly donate their time on Christmas day to cook meals using the charity’s kitchen. Now in its fifth year, Lucy is delighted to be extending the project to reach more families in hospital at Christmas.
She says, “It costs around £3,500 a year to provide the hampers and Christmas dinners for all those staying in hospital during the festive period. We are always so grateful for the donations we receive for the project, which is helping to keep Aidan’s legacy alive. Through this fantastic support, we’re able to ensure that no family is without a Christmas dinner whilst in hospital with their poorly child.”
To date, almost £16,000 has been raised for Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project which has provided over 200 Christmas dinners for families in the last four years. This year, Lucy is offering vouchers which can be bought as a special gift for a loved one at Christmas.
She explains: “For anyone who struggles to think of a unique Christmas gift for the person who has everything, we’re now offering Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project gift vouchers. For a £50 donation, we’ll be able to produce a beautiful festive hamper which will be given to a family in hospital. It’s a great way to give back this Christmas and will really help us make a big difference to those who need it most.”
Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project is also extending its support to families who need overnight accommodation close to the Alex, thanks to a new partnership with Brighton Getaways. The company is offering five of its holiday properties to families in the Alex at Christmas.
Lucy adds, “We are really pleased to be partnering with Brighton Getaways for the first time this year as a new addition to our project, which we’ve dubbed ‘Aidan’s Christmas Sleepover’. The luxury apartments are all within a walking distance of the hospital so that it won’t be far for parents to travel. Brighton Getaways will also be decorating each property with a Christmas tree to make them look that extra bit special.”
Donations to Aidan’s Christmas Diner Project can be made online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aidanschristmasdinner2019. To purchase a voucher, please call Lucy at Rockinghorse on 01273 330044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.