The N&N Hospitals Charity Send a Smile with Santa appeal launched last month with the aim to give every patient at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) a present on Christmas morning and we need your help once again to make it happen.
Today, we hear from Mark Taylor who found himself spending Christmas Day in hospital.
It was Christmas 2014 and as a minister in Carleton Rode Baptist Church Mark was in the midst of his busiest time of year.
Although there were services to prepare and events to attend, and a busy home life with four children, everything was going to plan until Mark began suffering chest pains and breathing problems on Christmas Eve and was brought by ambulance to the NNUH.
Tests were carried out at and it became clear that Mark would be spending Christmas in a hospital ward.
He said: “For the first time I was not spending Christmas with my family.
“I was really upset in a sense that I wasn’t with my family at home but also that it was the day I should be with my church family and I wasn’t able to do that either and I really felt that Christmas was going to pass me by.
“I spent the night on a ward and I can remember it was quite busy during the night, but then at about 7am this Health Care Assistant burst into the room dragging a big box.
“She was dressed as an elf but with antlers on and a red nose, and she shouted ‘He’s been, he’s been’.
“It was quite an entrance and she handed everyone a present, all wrapped up. I thought at that moment ‘Christmas hasn’t passed me by, Christmas is here’.
“Later in the day we had a Christmas lunch and buffet tea – the routine of the ward went on but first thing in the morning and meal times, everyone really made an effort to make it feel like Christmas.
“When my family came in I told them ‘He’s been’ and I think they were also pleased that when they were at home opening their presents we had had a bit of fun too.”
Mark was discharged late on Christmas Day after a heart rhythm problem was diagnosed.
He has since joined the hospital chaplaincy team and sees first hand the difference a small gift can make to a patient.
He said: “Go around the wards at any time and there are some people who have an empty table next to their bed, which says perhaps nobody has visited this person. They haven’t got a bottle of squash, no little cards on the wall. Maybe they don’t have anybody at home, you don’t know.
“I remember when I was in hospital, the person in the bed next to me – he had nobody come to see him.
“This time of year, churches and other groups are often looking for Christmas projects, and I think this would be a fantastic appeal to support.“
If you are able to donate a new, unwrapped present to the appeal, please bring along to one of the drop-off points at: Any reception at NNUH, Evening News/EDP reception at Archant.
For any more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org