A new campaign is to help children being treated in an Aberdeen hospital – and their families – make special memories.
The Archie Foundation has launched With Love from Archie, a new initiative which will provide young patients with gifts, experiences and days out.
The charity is aiming to help families at both the neonatal unit and Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
Some youngsters and their loved ones have already been able to visit the pantomime at His Majesty’s Theatre and Disney on Ice at P&J Live.
And it has appealed for more businesses to come forward to help families enjoy quality time together.
Fundraising manager Emily Findlay said: “With love from ARCHIE is a new initiative we are launching where we hope to offer families at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital quality time.
“Whether it’s giving patients a day out, siblings the opportunity to bond away from the hospital, or parents some much-needed respite, experiences can have a tremendously positive impact on these families.
“We rely on the generosity of local businesses for gifts such as tickets and box seats in shows and performances, vouchers, pool passes and similar things.
“We’ve recently been able to send families to Disney on Ice and also to the panto.
“The families were over the moon. One mum was especially thankful to be able to watch the show from ‘the box’ as her child was unable to sit for long periods of time.
“Each family is different and we love to be able to make it special in each case.”
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Staff working with the children on a daily basis have hailed the impact such experiences can have.
A chemotherapy practitioner at the children’s hospital said: “We’d really love people to get behind this campaign.
“We want to be able to not only look after the child that is in the ward but also the whole family. With Love from Archie will enable nursing and play staff to do this.”
The initiative will also see parents and other family members treated to time and experiences away from the wards.
One mum, who did not want to be named, said: “Spending many years away from home with a young daughter going through cancer treatment, life becomes unrecognisable.
“Normal life ends and a new normal begins.
“You are split up as a family, financial worries set in, stress levels rise due to treatments, and suddenly you are exhausted, existing rather than living.
“On days when your child is well enough to leave the hospital, even for just a couple of hours, you need to grasp any fun you can get and make memories together.
“Things like going to the cinema or spending precious time with siblings on a meal out is absolutely necessary and makes all the difference to the whole family.
“Time away from the ward for us to bond as a family and for the kids to be kids gives us hope and strength.”
She added: “Having strength and focus benefits not just you, but also your child.
“Of course you put your children first, but looking back, I know I felt invisible in the never-ending rollercoaster treatment journey.
“I know first-hand that a wee break away from the ward to refocus and recharge to face the next hurdle would help a parent or carer tremendously.
“Life with a very ill child is incomprehensible but it’s important to really treasure your time together and make the most of every moment.”