WITH just seven weeks left until Christmas, The Hunts Post is asking its readers to spare a thought for children who will be spending the day apart from their families, by buying a gift for a sick child.

WITH just seven weeks left until Christmas, The Hunts Post is asking its readers to spare a thought for children who will be spending the day apart from their families.

While George Osborne might be doing his best to extinguish all sense of Christmas cheer, the time for giving and sharing cannot be quashed no matter how austere the spending review.

So that is why this year The Hunts Post is asking its readers to dig a little deeper and add one more present to their Christmas shopping list for our Buy a Gift campaign in aid of Holly children's ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

For children on the Holly Ward, festive fun can be a little harder to come by from the confines of their hospital bed.

The 25-bed ward caters for children aged up to 17 who are cared for by a staff of 30 that includes qualified nurses and support workers, as well as eight consultants.

Ward manager Chris Luckham has worked at the hospital for 15 years. She says more children are being admitted than ever before.

She said: “Families get a choice of where they want to be seen, that is what they get offered by the GP services. They can choose to come here or another hospital in the county. We find we are getting patients from as far as Peterborough.”

While many of the cases are for chest infections and often patients leave the ward with a clean bill of health, some children suffering from chronic conditions never have that chance.

Despite her 30 years of nursing experience, Mrs Luckham admits those cases can be difficult.

The children's unit, which includes the Holly Ward and an out-patient ward, opened in 2007. It replaced the previous children's ward run from a converted adult ward in the main hospital. At that time the out-patient department was in a corridor.

Mrs Luckham, who trained in Cardiff and worked for a military hospital in Germany as a civilian nurse before moving to Huntingdon, said: “It was highlighted for a number of years we needed new facilities. With Huntingdon developing, we needed a more user-friendly environment.”

The current ward is brightly coloured, cheerful and spacious. At Christmas staff take time out of their busy schedules to add some sparkle with decorations and a tree.

Mrs Luckham said: “The run-up to Christmas can be extremely busy. Parents want to make sure their child is well, and we do get a lot of babies in with bronchitis. We will send home as many as we can, but those who are the severest patients will remain here in hospital. We try to make it especially memorable for them. Father Christmas comes round and we provide stockings with presents for the children.

“It's very relaxed and we try to make it as festive as we can.”

You can make that day a little bit more special by simply picking up an extra book, toiletries set, game, DVD or toy and dropping it into The Hunts Post and we'll make sure the Christmas cheer at Holly Ward stretches a little further this year.

INFORMATION: The Hunts Post is at 30 High Street, Huntingdon.