Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project

Simon and Lucy Pond with Aidan and their daughter Evie.

We’re proud to support a very special project, supporting families who are staying in hospital with their poorly child or baby.

Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was set up by parents Lucy and Simon Pond in memory of their little boy Aidan five years ago. They raise funds to gift families at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton and the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) with festive hampers.

This year, for the first time, Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project is being extended to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Haywards Heath. Festive hampers will be gifted to families in the Mid Sussex area who will be in the unit during Christmas.

Supported by local businesses and a wonderful team of volunteers, the hampers contain everything needed for a festive dinner on Christmas day, which is prepared and cooked for families on site at the hospitals.

An example of one of the hampers distributed to families in hospital.

The project’s founder, Lucy Pond, explains more…

“Our son Aidan was tragically diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called mitochondrial disease, aged just one. There is no treatment and no cure for this disease, he was a terminally ill child. Aidan passed away at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton on 1 March 2014.

“The dedicated children’s hospital nurses are amazing, and we’ll never forget the joy and warmth at Christmas. However, with the stress of the situation we found ourselves, as parents and grandparents, not be able to share a Christmas meal together as a family.

“This meant that we weren’t prepared with food on site at the hospital. Plus, it would simply not be possible to cook a traditional meal from scratch, with all the trimmings. As a result, we spoke to the head of nursing at the Alex and Rockinghorse (the hospital’s official charity) about our experience and how we could make it better.

“Together we came up with the idea of providing parent hampers full of treats that could be taken home or enjoyed at the hospital. In addition, a hot cooked Christmas dinner on the day itself. Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was born.”

Lucy is joined by Louise from Rockinghorse and Caroline from Davenports Catering, to deliver hampers last Christmas.

Celebrating five years of the project

Lucy continues: “Each year we provide hampers with items that are non-perishable. We also arrange for a team of five volunteers to cook meals – using the kitchen at Ronald McDonald House – for families who are spending Christmas in the hospital.

“Special thanks to Caroline Davenport of Davenports Catering, who has supported Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project from the beginning. We’d also like to thank Middle Farm for supplying vouchers for a family day out as part of the project.

“It costs £3,500 per year to purchase the hampers and provide hot Christmas dinners for all those staying in hospital during the festive period. Now in its fifth year, we’d be so grateful for any donations received for the project. By supporting us, you will help ensure that no family is without a dinner whilst in hospital with their ill child at Christmas.”

In 2017, Lucy was accompanied by You Tube star, Niomi Smart, to hand out hampers at the Alex.

Please support this very special project

To date, almost £16,000 has been raised for the project. Lucy and Simon have provided over 200 Christmas Dinners for families in the last four years.

Every year, around Christmas Eve, Lucy, joined by colleagues from Rockinghorse and helpful volunteers, visit the Alex and TMBU to hand out hampers of luxury food. They include; handmade mince pies, brownies, tea and coffee, and a cafetiere.

For those families receiving hampers, Lucy lets them know should their child still be in hospital over Christmas, there will be a team of volunteers who will be there to help them. They will be busy cooking delicious festive meals in the Ronald McDonald House at the Alex on Christmas Day. All the food for this is also funded by Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project.

If you feel inspired by this story and would like to know more, please like, follow Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project Facebook page. To donate to the project, please visit Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project Just Giving page.

Donations are very gratefully received and will help to provide a meal for families in hospital this Christmas. This year, you can purchase a very special gift for a loved one. By donating £50 for a hamper, you will receive a bespoke Aidan’s Christmas Dinner voucher, to show that you’ve made a donation on their behalf.

To find out more about the project or to purchase a special Christmas voucher, email lucy.pond@rockinghorse.org.uk. Thank you for your support.