Help to make Christmas a bit special for children with
life-shortening conditions

Maria McGill, chief executive at Childrens Hospice Association Scotland
Maria McGill, chief executive at Childrens Hospice Association Scotland
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For me, it’s important to be in Rachel House and Robin House, right at the heart of what we do at CHAS, as often as possible. I find this keeps me focused on what it is we’re trying to achieve. And ultimately, that’s reach every family in Scotland with a child that has a life-shortening condition.

When I’m at the hospices, I make time to meet with the families that are staying and I see it as a great privilege to be able to have a unique and personal relationship with them. My background is in nursing and I love being close to the point of care. At lunchtimes, families, visitors and staff gather in the communal living area and sit round the table to eat a home-cooked meal. It’s noisy and bustling but warm and welcoming and full of chatter, laughter and love..

At the moment, the hospices are gearing up for Christmas and parties, pantos and festive lunches are in full flow. They are full of life and fun at this time of year, but, Christmas is a particularly difficult time for our families. What should be the most joyful occasion of the year is often full of anxiety, stress and uncertainty. Caring for a child with a life-shortening condition brings many challenges – both physically and emotionally. Things that most families take for granted such as a visit to see Santa, time together relaxing and a home- cooked dinner, is much more difficult – if not impossible.

The Eadie family, who are fronting the CHAS Christmas appeal, are just one of many families who will be visiting Robin House in Balloch over the festive period. Aaron, aged ten, was diagnosed with a rare medical condition when he was just four years old. And since then, Aaron and his sisters, Olivia 11 and Sophia six, and baby brother Lachlan, age one, travel to Robin House with their parents each Christmas to have some quality time together as a family.

Earlier this month, our hospice staff arranged a special visit for the Eadies to go to Santa’s Enchanted Village at Loch Lomond Shores, to spend time with Santa as well as meeting owls and eagles in the Bird of Prey Sanctuary next door. It’s these kind of activities that we put a huge emphasis on at CHAS, enabling families to make memories that will last a lifetime.

We couldn’t do any of this without our generous supporters. The death of a child is one of the most tragic things that can happen in life. And while we can’t turn back the clock, we can create precious moments for families.

To donate whatever you can to the CHAS Christmas appeal, please visit www.chas.org.uk/christmas

More information about the CHAS 2016 Christmas Appeal:

l £10 could pay for a child to visit Santa, a trip made possible and easy with our support.

l £25 could help to turn a child’s bedroom in the hospice into a winter wonderland, even when we are dealing with serious illness or end of life care. It’s the small things that matter.

l £40 could pay two hours of expert nursing care, giving mum and dad the chance to be just that – mum and dad, not carer.

l £75 could pay for a family panto trip, enabling them to live life to the full and make treasured memories.

l £100 could pay for a family like the Eadies to enjoy a home- cooked dinner together, something simple but so difficult when your child needs care.

Maria McGill, chief executive at Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS)