One of the most delightful sights of the Christmas season is the cheerful faces of children as they enjoy the goodies they so longed for throughout the year.
This morning that happiness illuminated the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, smiles and laughter filling the wards of C7 and C8. It was all as a result of the loads of gifts they received, with the compliments of the British Women’s Club, which for close to 20 years has been gifting the little ones in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
When Santa Claus and his “elves” [students from the St Ursuline Convent] arrived at the health institution to give them their presents, for just under an hour these children, many too sick to spend Christmas at home with family, forgot about their ills and revelled in their treats.
From five–week–old Mckenzie Haqq, who was born premature, to 13–year–old Dannica Broome from the St George Secondary School, who only yesterday underwent surgery on her eyes, no child was left out. Many, though excited, vowed to wait until Christmas Day to unwrap their gifts. Aaron Franklyn, 4, was one of the few who didn’t wasted time finding out what he had gotten.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY before the presentation, president of the British Women’s Club, Maggie Blackman, said that in spite of the current economic hardships, there was no question the near 40–year-old organization “will always make sure that this is sustained . . . [s]imply because of the look on the child’s face –– the joy, and the fact that for just a minute they can forget that they are ill”.
The club is a supportive network for British women and women married to Englishmen. The porganization has about 170 members –– at least ten non–British. Throughout the entire year some British Women’s Club members weekly volunteer on the wards where they interact and play activities with the children.
The organization is not a charity, but its aim is to bring fun into the lives of people. Besides assisting at the QEH, it has also raised some $15,000 for the Evalina Smith Children’s Ward at the St Philip Hospital, and donated beach accessible wheelchairs to the Barbados Cancer Society.
In the past the club has raised $70,000 for the Autistic Society. It is planning a bingo evening to raise money for the Dyslexic Society in February and a big 40-year anniversary fund-raiser ball on March 14. The club is located at The Main Guard at The Garrison in St Michael. (KC)