Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was set up by parents Lucy and Simon Pond four years ago, in memory of their little boy Aidan. Together, they raise funds to gift families at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton and the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) with festive hampers.
Supported by local businesses and a team of volunteers, the hampers contain treats for parents such as tea, coffee, a cafetière, rocky road bites, mini mince pies and hand cream. Christmas lunch is also prepared and cooked for families at both hospitals, thanks to the additional support of Ronald McDonald House.
Project Founder, Lucy, explains why the cause is so close to her heart: “My son Aidan was tragically diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Mitochondrial disease, aged just one. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure for the disease and he was diagnosed as terminally ill, passing away at the Alex on 1 March 2014.
“We spent Aidan’s last Christmas in 2013 as a family in the Alex. Funding issues meant that for families like us, a Christmas dinner was not able to be provided. In Aidan’s memory, it was our aim to set up a project in order to provide a Christmas dinner for parents and carers.”
Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was founded and in 2015, began providing festive hampers to the Alex, supported by Rockinghorse. Four years later, Lucy, along with members of the Rockinghorse team and volunteers, spent Christmas eve delivering the hampers to patients and families on the wards at both the Alex and TMBU, who weren’t able to go home for Christmas.
To date, over £14,000 has been raised for the project in its four years, providing 205 Christmas hampers for families during that time. Elaine Carver was one of the parents in hospital receiving a Christmas hamper, she said: “We received a hamper last year whilst my daughter was in the Alex. It was a heart-warming gesture which was greatly appreciated at a difficult family time.”
Louise Bartha, Appeals & Trusts Fundraising Manager at Rockinghorse, explains why the project is so important to the charity: “As the official fundraising arm of the Alex, we are incredibly supportive of Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project and work closely with Lucy to ensure the hampers are funded, created and delivered to patients and parents in hospital on Christmas day.
“Seeing first-hand the impact that the hampers have, brings home the importance of the project at what is a very difficult time for a family in hospital. It’s wonderful to see what a big difference the hampers make in giving families a much-needed boost.”
Project founder, Lucy Pond, added: “The children in hospital at Christmas receive lots of gifts from the generous toy appeal donations, but parents are often forgotten about. There were many tears and smiles of gratitude from exhausted parents and carers all hoping to be able to get home in time for Christmas. The reality is that many had to stay in hospital with their children, so we hope the hampers and Christmas dinners went a long way to make it as a special a day as possible.
Louise and I would like to thank Caroline and Hugh from Davenports Catering for helping to make this all happen, along with Martin from Ronald McDonald House for enabling our volunteers to cook Christmas dinner on site. Finally, a very big thank you to everyone who donated to make the hampers project a success.”
Lucy and Rockinghorse are now looking to fund the hampers for Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project in 2019. To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aidanschristmasdinner2019.