Children cared for at The Royal London Hospital have celebrated Christmas with family and friends at the play department's annual Christmas party.
The Children's Hospital, which cares for up to 5,000 children each year, was transformed into a Christmas grotto and staff dressed as elves for the occasion which saw over 100 people attend.
Children were entertained by a caricaturist, face painter, children's entertainer, karaoke machine, an arts and crafts corner and were also able to take home their own balloon animal.
Even Father Christmas himself attended to hear children's Christmas wishes, with those too poorly to leave their bed treated to a special visit from the main man.
SpongeBob SquarePants also made a special visit to the surface, dancing with the children and bringing a SpongeBob smile to the wards.
Enjoying themselves at the party were sisters Ruby Tuesday, 8 and Juno, 6 from Tower Hamlets. They were introduced to the children's play team while their brother Digby, born in June 2016, was being cared for at the hospital with the serious condition Edwards syndrome.
Their father, Nick, explained: "Digby was very poorly. During the ten weeks of his life the play team were so supportive to the girls as well as to my wife and I, and that's continued ever since."
Local salon Taylor Taylor in Spitalfields recently invited their mum Cosima, Ruby Tuesday and Juno for a pampering afternoon including having their hair styled. Organised by play team leader Tara Shea, the salon regularly invites families to experience a relaxing afternoon where they're thoroughly looked after and offered care during the difficult times.
As Nick speaks positively about their salon experience Ruby Tuesday nods in agreement, adding that playing with the coloured sand in the arts and crafts corner has been her favourite activity of the Christmas party. The girls also enjoyed meeting Father Christmas. "They have had fun today," Nick says with a smile as Juno gently climbs him affectionately swinging from his hands.
Tara Shea, Play Team Leader, said: "Each year we hold the Christmas party aiming to put a smile on faces and provide an enjoyable experience. We always try to make being in hospital or having treatment as easy as possible for children. This is especially important at Christmas, which can be a very difficult time for those who are unwell or who have lost loved ones. I am delighted that so many of our children and their families were able to attend and celebrate with us.
"I'd also like to say a massive thank you to all those who supported us by providing hours of party fun, those who attended my pub quiz fundraiser earlier this year who helped us to find the party and Barts Charity who provided a mountain of presents for the children."
Each child was also thrilled to receive an early Christmas present courtesy of the many local people, staff and companies who have donated to Barts Charity's Christmas gift appeal.
Ellie Francis, Events and Fundraising Manager added: "We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who bought presents and donated to our Send a Smile with Santa appeal, as well as the volunteers who helped to decorate the wards and create Santa's grotto. We're delighted that the children at The Royal London were able to enjoy an amazing Christmas party to take their minds off a stay in hospital."
Barts Health would like to thank the Leicester Square Nickelodeon Store and Spread-a-Smile who donated entertainers and arts and crafts to make a truly special party.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
Barts Health NHS Trust
With a turnover of £1.4 billion and a workforce of around 16,000, Barts Health is the largest NHS trust in the country, and one of Britain’s leading healthcare providers. The Trust’s five hospitals – St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City, including the Barts Heart Centre, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, Newham University Hospital in Plaistow, Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone and Mile End – deliver high quality compassionate care to the 2.5 million people of East London and beyond.