Governors spread Christmas Cheer

by Anna Hodson-Pressinger (Patient Governor)—After 16 years of helping at our hospital and now as a governor, I found it a real must to do something for patients this Christmas. Last year I quietly went around the several wards specialised for the elderly patients with gifts and chatted to them and found it gave each much pleasure.

anna-hodson-pressinger.jpgAnna Hodson-Pressinger, Patient Governor

After 16 years of helping at our hospital and now as a governor, I found it a real must to do something for patients this Christmas. Last year I quietly went around the several wards specialised for the elderly patients with gifts and chatted to them and found it gave each much pleasure.

So this year I was so thrilled to be joined  by our new governor, Lou De Palo—for he was immediately helping in every way. I explained to all the other governors, that in their name I was to give a special Christmas Eve ward-round to each and every patient. The only exception was the children’s wards which are already very well organised at Christmas. It was therefore wonderful that the rest of the governors kindly voted to fund my idea out of the Governor’s annual budget.

Lou and his colleague Anne were very generous in allowing their office to be used as the dumping room for all the presents and bags etc. Our special marathon day on Christmas Eve was designed to give some much needed cheer, especially to those alone and without family to visit them.

Lou went online and brought hats and socks and I went off to Poundland for gifts and we approached many in the hospital and outside shops and friends, asking them to contribute either in time or with gifts. We decided not to wrap the presents but use bags that could be re-used as stockings, so that we could easily streamline what we gave to each patient depending on their health needs, age and gender.

So to the many staff who were very generous we want to thank you, and also The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, Sir Richard and Lady Hutchinson, the Felt Shop in Chelsea Village, Mrs Christopher Collins, the pop-up shop ‘Christmas Crackers’, the monthly perfume shop in the hospital and many other individuals. This was along which with those we brought ourselves and made so many very happy, for we were able to give each patient a bag of gifts as we went around all the wards on each floor.

On Christmas Eve I asked for everyone to come to the Boardroom at 10am, where they had coffee, tea and mince pies waiting them. After introductions and a chat, I, in a loud voice (which got hoarser as the day went by) called for all to keep together on our rounds for security, as by 10:30am when we set out there were some 35 of us. I insisted on a carol singing practice, which I hilariously conducted and continued to do as we went to each bay in each ward singing, one carol to each. We then split up spending at least five minutes with each patient—longer with those who mentioned they were alone.

Despite Lou, our Father Christmas, refusing to sing, saying he could not (though I did catch him singing at a later stage and then discovered he did have a good voice... just shy) it was so extremely impressive as matrons and sisters, and nurses, and close friends, family friends, university friends, all came and added to the fun. Yes it was huge fun and really set the tone of the true Christmas spirit to all.

We gave the staff Christmas hats and chocolates and I thank them all for working over Christmas—we definitely brought much cheer to patients and staff alike... each of us who partook in this were so overjoyed by the welcome and the appreciation of the many patients, many who clapped at our attempts of singing. 

I, who had my voice trained many years ago as an opera-singer, had a frog in my voice most of the day unless I was singing high and over it! Lady Henrietta who came as she had heard I was putting this on in the hospital, surprised me not only by turning up but she surprised us all with her brilliant voice, as well as the Matrons, who kindly joined us.

Next year it has to be repeated as it was great and a marvellous way to start Christmas.

So a huge thank you to all those who, in one way or other, helped Lou and myself achieve a brilliant and beautiful happy Christmas to our patients this Christmas.

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