GALLERY: Father Christmas provides festive boost for children at Hinchingbrooke Hospital

The Hunts Post readers donate presents to Holly Ward, at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Santa with mum Jo

The Hunts Post readers donate presents to Holly Ward, at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Santa with mum Jo Mitchell and Isobel Mitchell (3) from Godmanchester - Credit: Archant

The children spending some of this Christmas in hospital have sent their thanks to all The Hunts Post readers who generously donated gifts as part of our Holly’s Little Helpers appeal.

Father Christmas took time out of his busy schedule on Thursday to deliver early presents to the young patients on Holly Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon.

This year’s appeal was the most successful yet, with more than 200 presents donated at our Huntingdon office. Gifts ranged from DVDs, books and toys to make-up, jewellery sets and colouring books.

The presents are not only delivered to the children in hospital – and to those admitted during the festive period – but are also taken out to sick children being cared for at home by Holly Ward’s continuous care teams.

Holly Ward’s youngest patient – 13-day-old Ethan Aprigliano – was the first to receive a present. Ethan was born four weeks prematurely, was jaundiced and had suffered breathing problems.

Parents Natalie and Scott were looking forward to getting their son back to their Offord D’Arcy home for Christmas.

Mr Aprigliano said: “It was a surprise to see Santa in hospital – thank you for the presents to make Ethan’s first Christmas more special.”

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John-Joe Price, six, was in to have grommets – tubes – inserted in his ears. His mother Helena Deery, of St Ives, said: “The appeal is a great idea. It makes coming into hospital at Christmas time so much easier for the children.”

Oliver French’s face lit up as Father Christmas poked his head around the curtains surrounding his hospital bed. The seven-year-old, from Clophill, Bedfordshire, was just coming round from having tonsils and adenoids removed.

He told his special visitor a Kindle was top of his Christmas list.

Mum Natasha said: “It’s lovely to see Oliver receiving this. It was a great surprise.”

Also on Santa’s delivery list was Robyn Oliver, 14, from Yaxley, who was recovering from a skin graft, and six-month-old Mac-Alistair Loftus, of Wyton-on-the-Hill, who was being looked after for bronchiolitis.

Father Christmas made sure Isobel Mitchell, three, was obeying doctor’s orders to wear an oxygen mask while she opened her presents – including High School Musical 3 and a jewellery set. She was taken rushed to hospital at 3am on Thursday by her dad David, who is a surgeon at Hinchingbrooke, from her Godmanchester home because she was suffering from a chest infection.

Olivia Harwin, 17-months -old, received a teddy bear from Father Christmas. Her mum Lauren, from Eaton Socon, said: “Olivia was meant to meeting Santa at pre-school [on Thursday] today as they are having a little party. Instead, she got to meet him here, which is brilliant.”

Ward sister Chris Luckham, said: “I am constantly amazed by the generosity of our public who have shown their support for sick children at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

“The donations this year have been far in a way better than previous years, which we are all very grateful for. It makes the time the children have to stay at Christmas a little bit more enjoyable.”

Hunts Post Editor Andy Veale added: “Thank you once again to you, our readers, for supporting our Christmas present appeal.

“Your generosity with this appeal, and the others we have organised during the year, continues to make us proud of the Huntingdonshire communities we serve.”