A PROJECT to help families staying in hospital this Christmas with a sick child is appealing for donations.

Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project is a partnership between parents Lucy and Simon Pond and the Rockinghorse children’s charity to give families at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton festive hampers.

Lucy and Simon, who live in Haywards Heath, set it up five years ago in memory of their son.

Aidan had a rare genetic disorder called mitochondrial disease and died at the age of one.

Lucy, who now works for Rockinghorse as challenge events fundraising manager, said: “There is no treatment or cure for mitochondrial, and Aidan passed away at the Alex on March 1, 2014.

“The dedicated team of children’s hospital nurses and doctors were amazing.

“But with the stress of the situation, we found we were unable to share a Christmas meal together as a family.”

Lucy said that while she and her family were in hospital over the Christmas period, they simply had not had the time to prepare a meal.

She said: “We spoke with the head of nursing at the Alex and to Rockinghorse about our experience and how it could be made better.

“Together we came up with the idea of providing hampers to parents, which would be full of treats to be taken home or enjoyed at the hospital.

“We also decided that a hot Christmas dinner could be cooked on site on the day and from there the project was born.”

Each year, hampers containing non-perishable items and treats such as home-made mince pies, brownies and Christmas pudding are given to families on Christmas Eve.

Hampers are also given to families in the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and for the first time this year, they will be given to families in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

A team of volunteers at Ronald McDonald House, which is near the Alex and is where families with sick children can stay, donate their time on Christmas Day to cook hot meals.

Lucy said: “It costs around £3,500 a year to provide the hampers and Christmas dinners to families staying in hospital.

“We’re always so grateful for donations we receive for the project, which is helping to keep Aidan’s legacy alive.”

This year the project is offering Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project gift vouchers.

For a £50 donation, Lucy said they will be able to produce a beautiful festive hamper which will be given to a family in hospital.

She said: “It’s a great way to give back this Christmas and will really help us make a big difference to those who need it most.”

The project is also extending its support this year with Brighton Getaways, which is offering five holiday properties to families who need overnight accommodation near the hospital at Christmas.

Lucy said she is really pleased to be adding to the project’s reach, which she has dubbed “Aidan’s Christmas Sleepover”.

To donate, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/aidanschristmasdinner2019.

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