The Grinch has arrived at Sheffield Children’s Hospital!
His entire story - along with hand drawn images of everybody’s favourite festive grump - lines the walls of the S3 ward, for visitors and patients to read and enjoy this Christmas.
“We started decorating the ward in mid-November,” said ward clerk Becki Jefferson.
“All the patients and their parents have been helping to colour in the pictures on the walls and craft the rest of the decorations.
“We wanted to make sure our ward looked bright and interesting for patients who will be staying with us over the festive period. Staff have been typing up and laminating the entire story of the Grinch, cutting it into paragraphs and hanging them throughout the ward. It looks fantastic!”
And that’s not the only sign that the seasonal spirit is roaming the hospital halls. The competition for the best-dressed ward is hotting up and, for medical secretary Lauren Uttridge, that’s meant seven months of making snowflakes to turn the cystic fibrosis unit where she works into Gimbels Toy Store.
“Elf is my favourite Christmas film so I really wanted to recreated Gimbels – the toy store from the film,” she said.
“I started making snowflakes in May so decorating the ward has been a very long process - I don’t even like crafting but I’m obsessed with Christmas!
“Every patient who has come in has really loved it and that’s what’s important. Especially the little ones – we’ve had a lot of ‘wows!!’ and the older kids have been giving us the thumbs-up.
“Last week we had a Christmassy Pyjama Party for the Cystic Fibrosis team to help us raise money for National Elf Service. Everyone paid a pound to dress up - and anyone who didn’t dress up had to pay a £5 fine!”
The hospital’s ward staff are among the hundreds of people backing the hospital charity’s ‘£for£’ campaign this Christmas, in which businesses, organisations and individuals across the city are racing to raise the £200,000 the charity needs to complete work on the hospital’s play tower, which is due to open next April.
The tower, part of the hospital’s new £40 million wing - which includes a new outpatients department, wards and private rooms - will provide a beautiful space for play specialists to spend time with children between treatments, distracting them from their illnesses, and allowing them some time to relax.
And now, generous Sheffield businessman and longtime supporter of the Children’s Hospital Charity, Graham Royle, has laid down a challenge for the city, pledging £100,000 to match people’s donations to finish the tower – and donations have been flooding in since the campaign launched two weeks ago.
Rebecca Staden, the charity’s fundraising manager, said: “Extensive research has shown that using play to distract children from their conditions can be incredibly beneficial to their health, and even reduce the need for other clinicians during some procedures, saving staff time and costs.
“By donating to our campaign, you’ll be helping us to make the experience of coming to hospital less intimidating for children.”
The battle of the wards is all part of the charity’s National Elf Service Day, which will be held on December 16 to help raise the last £200,000 needed to finish work on the play tower.
Fundraising manager Rebecca Staden said: “Staff on our wards have got bake sales, raffles, Christmas quizzes and tons of fancy dress planned for National Elf Service Day, to help us ensure we gert as close to our total as possible before Christmas.
“There will be awards handed out on the day for the best decorated ward, the most creative, and of course for the msot funds raised.”
Over on the hospital’s busy M1 ward, play specialists Alison Delaney and Claire Johnson have been working hard creating Snowman-themed decorations. To make sure the ward is ready in time for National Elf Service Day, the pair has even been taking the decorations home to finish and making extra ones on their days off.
Rebecca added: “This year’s Christmas decorations are truly bigger and better than ever before, we’re so impressed with everyone’s dedication and efforts.
“As part of the £for£ campaign, we’re asking schools, businesses, community groups and individuals to get involved in National Elf Service Day this December 16, by hosting an event to raise some money, or making a donation to the cause.
“Everything you send, no matter how big or small, will be match-funded by Graham until we hit our total.”
Visit The Children’s Hospital charity to find out more about how you can get involved.
Among those supporting the hospital charity’s ‘£for£’ campaign is 20-year-old Charlotte Ford.
“I was just a few years old when I first started coming to Sheffield Children’s Hospital,” said Charlotte.
“Even though hospitals can be scary places for a child, the only memories I have of Sheffield Children’s Hospital are good ones.”
Charlotte was born with PFFD - a condition which causes one leg to grow shorter than the other - and has had years of leg lengthening treatment before being discharged last year.
She added: “I’ve no idea how many hours I’ve spent at Sheffield Children’s Hospital but it ended up being like a second home. I’m planning on coming to visit the hospital soon so that I can see my nurses and take a look around the new build and, of course, the new Play Tower.
“Play in the hospital was so important. Just being able to take your mind off of what’s going on for a while is so helpful.”
“I think the new Play Tower is going to be amazing for patients. It will be a place for them to get away to and will give them a bit of normality. For all the medical things that might be going on in their lives – these kids just want to be normal and do everything that kids are meant to do.”