A time to remember

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity

At this time of the year, I’m normally preoccupied by working out what football games I’m covering for Radio 5 Live, and how much time I can get off to enjoy myself. The usual self-absorbed attitude of an adult not distracted by serious family concerns over health.

But this December, I’m glad to be able to raise my game, lift the scales from my eyes and consider how stressful Christmas can be for so many – thanks to a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Any decent individual will say all the right things about Christmas being such a taxing period for families visiting loved ones in hospital. We acknowledge it really isn’t the ‘Season To Be Jolly’ for them, thank goodness it doesn’t affect us – but what do we do about it? How many of us do something practical, instead of mouthing platitudes?

Well, here’s your chance to help some of the 100,000 patients that will be at QEHB over this festive period. Just £1 would go towards a pot of money that would provide some solace to those who have to be in hospital at the worst possible time.

There are so many fund-raising projects buzzing around at QEHB that will support all manner of people this festive period.

Throughout December, children will receive gruelling radiotherapy treatment for five days a week over six weeks. Every one of those will be given a toy from around the Christmas tree in the Radiotherapy Unit. Each floor of the hospital will have a tree, there’ll be hampers full of goodies to share around on the wards for those at the hospital on Christmas Day

Patients in hospital on Christmas Day can watch their favourite TV programmes free of charge, and car parking will be free, so that visitors can stay with their loved ones as long as they like on that special, emotional day.

Some young children will be bewildered and frightened by the unfamiliarity of being in hospital and will simply cling to their parents for solace. Others who are older will be only too aware of what challenges they are facing. The Teenage Cancer Trust Young Persons Unit at QEHB provides support for young people from the age of 16 to 24. They will know what lies ahead and why their treatment has to continue, no matter what day of the year it is.

But they won’t be forgotten on their ward, which will be handsomely decorated with gifts for everyone. Hopefully, it will be a distraction for them, alongside their families.

So here’s the nub of the matter. All this costs money. This year QEHB Charity’s Christmas Campaign hopes to raise £25,000 to fund some marvellous ways of helping so many get through their period in hospital at such an emotional time.

There are so many ways you can get involved and help to bring Christmas to the hospital.

The superb Birmingham Hospitals Carol Service is at St Philip’s Cathedral on 14 December, starting at 7pm. Festive songs, mulled wine, mince pies, serenaded by community choirs from around Birmingham.

Friday December 15 is Festive Jumper Day – a chance to look very silly at work, while raising money. Show off your favourite Christmas jumper at your school or office – the more gaudy the better! – and donate £1 to QEHB Charity’s Christmas Campaign.

The Twelve Choirs of Christmas in the atrium will be only too pleased to keep singing carols, as long as you fill up the tins. They will be singing throughout the month of December, raising spirits and smiles in the hospital.

The Christmas Hub in the atrium will provide complete fundraising advice, as well as selling a wide range of Christmas merchandise.

If any companies want to get involved in the Christmas Campaign, they can sponsor a floor of the hospital for the Yuletide period. For £1,000 your company will have its logo on the Christmas tree and the hampers will also provide due acknowledgement.

Alternatively, for £250 your company could sponsor one of the twelve Christmas choirs throughout December, and help out with the bucket collection whilst they sing. In return, your company will be recognised on the Christmas Campaign website.

There’s a JustGiving page at qehbchristmas.org where you can make donations and read about

So why not support this valuable cause? I can guarantee that so many dedicated staff at QEHB, some of whom I met during my visit, would be hugely grateful for your generosity. Let’s together, make a difference to the lives of patients at QEHB this Christmas.

To learn more about the Christmas Campaign or to donate please go to qehbchristmas.org

If you’d like more information about how QEHB Charity supports patients, please go to www.qehb.org or call 0121 371 4852.

Pat Murphy
BBC Sport broadcaster