South London’s firefighters deliver gifts to kids in hospital over Christmas

Firefighters across South London brought a bit of joy to kids stuck in hospital over Christmas after they collected thousands of pounds worth of presents.

The London Fire Brigade’s East Greenwich Green Watch made a special Christmas Day visit to the Safari Ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Stadium Road, Greenwich, and raised £500 for presents for children there over Christmas.

A week earlier, Lambeth Red Watch visited Evelina Children’s Hospital in Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, to give out presents that have been donated to the patients.

Station Officer Adam Hills, from Lambeth Fire Station, said: “We knew that lots of the children in our borough who were ill over Christmas would go to Evelina Children’s Hospital at St Thomas’ and wanted to do something to help them.

“We collected donations from our colleagues at Lambeth and from local businesses. To make the day special for the children, we dressed the fire engine up as a grotto and went as Elves and Santa to give out the gifts.”

Similarly, Peckham’s firefighters have been raising funds for gifts for the children in Southwark’s Refuge Charity shelters on Christmas Day. Gifts were donated by Sainsbury’s in Dog Kennel Hill in Dulwich.

Station Officer Steve Border, from the brigade’s Positive Improvement Team, coordinated an appeal with Children’s Hospital Pyjamas, a charity that the brigade has been supporting since 2019.

Mr Border said: “I became involved with Children’s Hospital Pyjamas after my stepdaughter, who also had childhood leukaemia, told me about it.

“I donated a pair of pyjamas to the charity, but noticed they had no storage other than a space in someone’s front room – the family running the charity couldn’t enjoy their own Christmas because they were so busy helping others.

“I wanted to make a difference, so offered storage at a fire station for the campaign. We wanted to help a child and their family smile when they are going through their worst nightmare at Christmas – a simple thing like a nice pair of pyjamas can help make a sick child feel more comfortable.”

The team have collected more than 200 pyjamas. Forest Hill fire station worked as a central hub and were assisted by the brigade’s four area teams based in Stratford, Lewisham, Wembley and Hammersmith.

Station Officer Paul Anstey, along with the crews at Brixton fire station, coordinated an appeal with King’s College Children’s Hospital, collecting gifts to deliver to children spending Christmas in hospital. Paul, along with Brixton Blue Watch, collected and delivered more than 100 presents.

Mr Anstey also coordinated the Brigbde’s involvement with Wrap Up London, a campaign to collect and provide warm winter coats for those in need over Christmas.

He said: “When we first did this campaign four years ago, we only had one station involved. This year, we had 13 stations taking part and we collected over 3,500 coats for adults, children, and pets.

“The cold weather over Christmas can have a devastating effect, so we’re delighted to have been able to help keep those who are vulnerable warm and be present in our local communities at the same time.”

Pictured top: Lambeth Red Watch visited Evelina Children’s Hospital to give out presents (Picture: London Fire Brigade)

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