Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project a great success

Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project provided families spending Christmas in hospital with their children a great festive feast.

The project was set up six 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 spending the festive season in the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton with hampers. This year they were able to raise £3,500 in the run up to Christmas.

The project has proved so successful that the hampers are now also gifted to families in the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath. And this year, for the first time, they were also given to families of inpatients at Chalkhill Children and Adolescent Mental Health Unit in Haywards Heath.

Lucy delivering the hampers

The hampers, donated to families on Christmas Eve, contain treats for parents such as tea, coffee, a cafetiere, homemade mince pies, brownies, and a Christmas pudding. They are put together in partnership with Caroline Davenport from Davenports Catering, who has supported the project from the beginning. And as an added treat this year, Middle Farm near Lewes also donated vouchers for a family day out.

In addition, a team of five volunteers normally prepare and cook a hot Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for the families so that they don’t miss out on their usual feast but due to COVID-19 restrictions this year Lucy also organised for a cold buffet to be available for parents on Christmas Day.

An amazing 75 hampers were donated this Christmas.

In the run up to Christmas, Lucy (who now works as our Challenge Events Fundraising Manager) spent time getting the hampers ready to deliver to families on Christmas Eve. She was joined by volunteers Debbie, Elaine and Phillippa who gathered at a social distance in a loading bay on an industrial site to safely fill, wrap and pack the hampers, within government guidelines.

In total, 75 hampers were delivered and distributed to families at the Alex, TMBU, SCBU and Chalkhill. Lucy arrived at the hospitals in style, thanks to a branded van courtesy of Caroline’s husband Hugh from Dragon Signs. Hugh also kindly sponsored three huge rum-tastic jewelled fruitcakes for staff at the Royal Alex and TMBU and High Weald Dairy also donated three cheese hampers for staff as well as a cheeseboard for parents on Christmas Day.

Staff from the Play Team at the Alex take delivery of the hampers

Tricky logistics

Lucy said, “This has to have been the toughest year yet to pull off the safe delivery of 75 hampers to four paediatric departments across Brighton and Haywards Heath, always adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. There was the constant worry that either me or Caroline would have to isolate which would throw out all our plans!

“Thankfully we made it to Christmas Eve and were able to pass the hampers to staff for them to distribute to families. Thank you to everyone who has donated towards the project to honour Aidan’s memory and to help other parents going through tough times.”

And the donations really made an impact on the recipients with Louise from the Play Team at the Royal Alex commenting: “All of the families were incredibly grateful; we even had some happy tears! Thank you so much for organising and delivering them, they have made such a difference to so many families in hospital this Christmas!”

For more information about the Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project or to donate, click here.

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