The people of Sheffield proved the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in the city, as National Elf Service Day finally got underway - and exceeded all expectations.
After months of preparation, businesses, organisations and individuals across the city joined Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity’s ‘£for£’ campaign efforts to raise the £200,000 needed to complete work on the hospital’s new play tower which is due to open next April.
Money is still flooding in from the day of fundraising last Friday - nicknamed ‘National Elf Service Day’ - but the campaign so far has raised an incredible £80,000.
And now, generous Sheffield businessman and longtime supporter of the Children’s Hospital Charity, Graham Royle, has agreed to match this, along with all other donations made since the campaign began last month, to bring the total so far to 160,000 - just £40,000 shy of the end-goal.
Graham said: “The Star’s coverage of the Children’s Hospital Charity’s campaign, and the public’s response, has been overwhelming and very humbling. Already the generous folks of Sheffield have donated an incredible £79,679, which I am delighted to match fund, giving a current total of £159,358 towards our £200,000 target.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the campaign so far. Please keep it coming for this most worthy facility.”
Among those taking part in region-wide events last week were students from Tupton Hall School, in Chesterfield, who held a fancy dress day, a Christmas concert and a bake sale to raise over £2,000 for the campaign.
One of the organisers, Jack Geary, said: “The day created a real buzz around school, creating great Christmas spirit while promoting this important charity. It was a fun yet reflective day for all involved.”
Student, and fellow organiser, George Marriott, said: “It was one of the highest fundraising totals in school history and it’s great to know that our donation will also be given a massive boost by Graham, whose pledge will raise our total to £4,000 for the charity.
“The Children’s Hospital Charity is close to our hearts here at Tupton Hall School because we have several students who have been received care at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.”
Sheffield company Fretwell-Downing Hospitality Ltd also held a fancy dress day, bake sale and lucky dip to raise cash for the campaign.
Marketing manager Jade McCarthy said: “As a Sheffield-born company, we realise how important the Sheffield Children’s Hospital is to the families of Sheffield, including some of our own staff. What better way to raise money than getting into the festive spirit with National Elf Service Day?
“We also held a Christmas Movie Day in one of our meeting rooms and sang Christmas Carols and played games to raise extra cash.”
The High Dependency department did their part on the day too, hosting a cake sale and a game of pin the nose on Rudolph to raise money.
A spokesman for the department said: “Raising money for our charity is so important – it doesn’t just help the hospital it also helps to bring families and staff together and creates a fun environment. Especially for the families that have to stay in the hospital over Christmas.”
The new Play 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.
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 response to our £for£ campaign has been wonderful and we were overwhelmed by the amount of effort wards and departments throughout the hospital, as well as groups all across the region, put into National Elf Service Day. There were elves around every corner and festive fundraisers wherever you looked, and e’re so close to our final goal of £200,000 now as a result. We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped make the day so special.
“And please, if you can afford to make any contribution, big or small, this Christmas to help us reach our target and make this play tower a reality, we’d be so grateful.”
Visit The Children’s Hospital Charity to find out how you can donate.