Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Conjuring Up Festive Magic for Children Who Can't Enjoy Christmas at Home; GOSH Volunteers and Staff Provide Turkey, Stockings and Lots of Fun

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Conjuring Up Festive Magic for Children Who Can't Enjoy Christmas at Home; GOSH Volunteers and Staff Provide Turkey, Stockings and Lots of Fun

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Davis Deputy Campaigns Editor

STAFF at Great Ormond Street Hospital are preparing to make Christmas as enjoyable as possible for the children who cannot go home to celebrate it.

Doctors try to discharge as many as they can for the festive period, but about 190 poorly children are expected to have to spend Christmas Day on the wards.

So medics, catering staff and volunteers are pulling out all the stops to ensure the season retains its magic. The Lagoon canteen is preparing to serve up to 1,000 Christmas dinners and more than 1,000kg of turkey, 110kg of carrots and 75kg of Brussels sprouts have been ordered. The chapel will conduct four Christmas services.

Decorations are being put up -- but staff must be creative as everything has to be able to be cleaned and thrown away in the event of any infection, and this means there is no tinsel.

In Koala Ward, a neurology and craniofacial unit which also treats highdependency and emergency patients, there are Christmas messages from supporters of the hospital written on stockings, cards and hanging stars.

About 20 children are expected to be there on Christmas Day. Staff and volunteers will dress up and give children and their visiting siblings

stockings, and serve dinner.

Ward Sister Melissa Strickland, 48, who, has worked at GOSH for 20 years, said the day would be "business as usual" for clinical staff. Nine of the 50-strong nursing team will be on duty and doctors' rounds will carry on as normal.

"Medically it is any other day for us," she said. But she added: "Working here at Christmas makes me re-evaluate my life. I know this sounds quite corny but for me it's quite healing working here.

"Because we can all go home after our shift and see our families, and you get children here -- usually a newly diagnosed brain tumour patient who arrives on Christmas Eve -- it makes you really grateful. …

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