Posted on Wednesday 17 December 2014
Vauxhall Primary School children help to pack the stockings
Every patient waking up at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals on Christmas morning will open a stocking packed full of gifts.
No one wants to spend Christmas in hospital but this heartwarming initiative will bring festive cheer to patients and their families.
It is the brainchild of nursing assistant Maria Cole who came up with the idea just before Christmas last year.
Chief Nurse Eileen Sills put Maria in touch with Mia Hilborn, Head of Spiritual Care, and the rest of the chaplaincy team. They spread the word in the hospitals and in the local community and, thanks to generation donations, more than 750 patients received stockings.
This year the initiative has really taken off and Christmas 2014 looks set to be even bigger and better – 1,100 stockings have been packed and will be given to every single patient staying at Guy’s and St Thomas’ on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Stockings will also be given to every patient coming into A&E and to every mother who gives birth at St Thomas’ on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – a patchwork group have even made special stockings for mums whose babies are being cared for on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
A charity called Giving World has donated more than 5,000 stocking fillers including DVDs, hats, gloves, perfumes, AMT Coffee donated chocolates and sweets, Estee Lauder gave hundreds of candy canes, and hospital staff have also donated items.
A team of volunteers has packed the stockings with a little help from teachers and pupils at two local schools - Vauxhall Primary School and Notre Dame High School in Elephant and Castle.
Mia Hilborn, Head of Spiritual Care at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “The initiative was such a success last year that it looks set to become an annual event. Everyone loved it – patients and staff alike.
“It’s such a simple thing but the pure joy from the recipients is immeasurable. Not a single solitary stocking was left behind when patients were able to leave hospital. They all left clutching their Christmas stockings, it was really touching to see.”