Brighton project makes Christmas dinner for families with children in hospital

A children’s charity will support an initiative to help families who are staying in hospital with their poorly children or babies at Christmas.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 10:35 am
Louise Bartha, Lucy Pond, and Caroline Davenport from Rockinghorse delivering Christmas hampers to Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton

The Brighton-based Rockinghorse charity will help the Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project to provide Christmas meals for families spending Christmas in hospital.

Parents Lucy and Simon Pond started the project five years ago in memory of their son Aidan.

Project founder, Lucy, who now works at Rockinghorse, said: “My son Aidan was tragically diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Mitochondrial disease, aged just one.

Simon and Lucy Pond with their eldest daughter, Evie, and son, Aidan, who inspired the project

“Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure for Mitochondrial, meaning that he was a terminally ill child. Aidan passed away at the Alex on March 1 2014.

“The dedicated team of children’s hospital nurses and doctors are amazing, and we’ll never forget the joy and warmth at Christmas.”

Lucy said that her family was ‘unable to share a Christmas meal together’ whilst at the hospital.

“We hadn’t prepared ourselves with food to take to the hospital and we simply weren’t able to make the time to prepare a Christmas meal,” she said.

Lucy Pond with Youtube star Niomi Smart

“As a result, we spoke with the head of nursing at the Alex and to Rockinghorse, the hospital’s official charity, about our experience.”

“Together we came up with the idea of providing hampers to parents which would be full of treats to be taken home or enjoyed at the hospital. In addition, we decided that a hot Christmas dinner could be cooked on site on Christmas day.

“From there, Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was born.”

In partnership with the Rockinghorse charity, the project gifts hampers to families spending Christmas at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton.

As part of the project, and with support from the Ronald McDonald House charity, volunteers cook Christmas dinner on site on December 25.

Hampers contain treats for parents like tea, coffee, homemade mince pies, brownies, Christmas pudding, and hand cream.

Local businesses contribute to the hampers including Caroline Davenport of Davenports Catering, and Middle Farm near Lewes, who supply vouchers for a family day out.

Since the project started in 2014, it has expanded to the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit and, for the first time, hampers will be given to families spending Christmas in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath this year.

Lucy said she is ‘delighted to be extending the project’.

“It costs around £3,500 a year to provide hampers and Christmas dinners for all those staying in hospital during the festive period” she said.

“We are always so grateful for the donations we receive for the project, which help to keep Aidan’s legacy alive.

“Through this fantastic support, we’re able to ensure that no family is without a Christmas dinner whilst in hospital with their poorly child.”

As a result of the project, more than 200 Christmas dinners have been served and more than £15,000 has been raised.

Gift vouchers can also be purchased this year to give as Christmas gifts and proceeds will be donated to the project.

Lucy said: “For anyone who struggles to think of a unique Christmas gift for the person who has everything, we’re now offering Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project gift vouchers.

“For a £50 donation, we’ll be able to produce a beautiful festive hamper which will be given to a family in hospital. It’s a great way to give back this Christmas and will really help us make a big difference to those who need it most.”

Due to a new partnership with Brighton Getaways, Aidan’s Christmas Sleepover, the project is branching out to offer support to families who need overnight accommodation close to the Alex.

The company is offering five of its holiday properties to families in the Alex at Christmas.

To find out more about Aidan’s Christmas Dinner and how to support the project, visit the JustGiving page.

For more information about gift vouchers, contact Lucy Pond by phone: 01273 330044 or email: [email protected]