We have had a busy season getting everybody in the Christmas spirit!
Even before December, we were preparing for the upcoming holidays, launching our Festive Fairs throughout November; first, in the Restaurant at Airedale General Hospital during the second week of November, and then again on 25 November at Skipton Town Hall, where visitors were greeted with Christmas music and a range of local business stalls. Our Skipton Festive Fair raised over £450 for our charity.
Launching mid-November was our Christmas Gift Appeal, which saw many gifts being donated to patients at our hospital before the appeal ended on the 13 December. Dunelm in Keighley were responsible for over 50 gifts through their Delivering Joy campaign. Robertson Construction, who are currently undertaking the ward construction and refurbishment at Airedale Hospital, donated a large number of gifts to the appeal, including games, chocolates, and toiletries for patients of all ages.
Angela McGarry, Matron at Airedale Hospital, gave out the presents to inpatients on Christmas Day. She said:
“I wanted to hand the presents out because it’s an opportunity to put smiles on the faces of patients that can’t go home over Christmas. I hope that these presents can brighten their day and make the hospital feel more like home.”
Laura Hepworth, our Community Fundraiser, said:
“Thank you so much to everyone who donated gifts to our Gift Appeal.
“We also want to say a massive thank-you to Dunelm in Keighley. Thanks to them, and to everyone who donated a gift, our patients will feel that much more special over Christmas.”
We then kicked off December with their final Festive Fair of 2023 from 4-8 December, at the hospital.
Laura Hepworth said:
“Our Festive Fairs really are a tribute to how our community can pull together to get in the spirit of things. Even in November, we had people running stalls with Santa hats on! All the businesses were so easy and lovely to work with, and it was all just such great fun, as well as raising much-needed funds for the Charity.”
The 7 December saw members of St Anne’s Primary school in Keighley coming into the Restaurant at the hospital to sing Christmas carols, bringing the Christmas spirit to staff and patients over lunch with their rendition of classic Christmas songs.
The following Monday, 11 December, Airedale saw its first ever Tree of Light on its top landing, near our HODU (Haematology and Oncology Unit). The headline sponsor for our tree this year was Robertson Construction, who had donated £250 to our charity to be featured at the top of the tree, which will stay at our hospital on display until the 5 January.
After weeks of preparation, our annual Festive Lunches were handed out from 11-15 December. We had teamed up with Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton to hand-deliver a total of 2,584 packed lunches to hard-working Trust staff and volunteers. The local farm shop arrived at the hospital at 10:30am every day us hand the lunches out. Courtesy of Manorlands Hospice in Keighley, we was joined by friends dressed in fabulous festive costumes to help hand out the lunches and provide some entertainment for staff.
Also joining us during the week was the Chair of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Andrew Gold, who gave us a helping hand, as well as children’s choirs from Sutton Community Primary School and Eastburn Junior & Infant School, and a brass band made up of musicians from across the Airedale area.
Laura Hepworth said:
“These lunches are our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our staff and volunteers who work so hard all year to keep our community safe and healthy.
“We want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Keelham Farm Shop for partnering with us on this and being a huge help with handing out the lunches – which were absolutely delicious — and for showing up every day, without fail or complaint, and helping us out.”
The final event on the list before our team were able to relax in time for the holidays was Christmas Sock Day, where local communities raise money for our charity by wearing Christmassy Socks together with uniformed staff who are unable to wear Christmas jumpers. An annual Airedale tradition, participants donate £1 to the Charity and share their socks online by using the hashtag #SockSelfie. The campaign raised an impressive £235!
While those may have been our main events, our local community also found ways to bring the Christmas spirit to the hospital. Skipton Rotary Club donated 80 Advent Calendars to Airedale Hospital’s Children’s Ward, gifts which were gratefully received by our younger patients.
Laura Hepworth said:
“Skipton Rotary Club are long-time supporters of ours, and we are so thankful for their generosity.
“They never fail to bring festive joy to our Children’s Ward every Christmas, and it’s truly magical to see.”
Nicky Shoesmith, President of Skipton Rotary Club, said:
“The past Skipton Rotary President, Mike Thornett, initiated this seasonal tradition, and again we have asked our members to think of the children who are spending the festive season in hospital.
“We are so delighted to be able to bring some Christmas cheer to them this year, and we hope that through these advent calendars, we can make their stay over Christmas that much more enjoyable.”
Our charity is extremely grateful to the many other festive donors to the Trust, including:
- Tilly, age 8, who donated a large bag of selection boxes for the Children’s Ward.
- David Bunyan, author of Lily’s Christmas Letter, who donated a box of his books to children visiting the hospital over the festive period.
- Sutton Cricket Club who donated cricket sets for every patient on the Children’s Ward.
- Oakworth Social Club who contributed to the annual gift appeal.
Funds raised for Airedale Hospital and Community Charity go towards the improvement of staff and patient wellbeing at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and the surrounding community, providing items and services that are above and beyond NHS provision.