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PRESS RELEASE

Christmas comes early for poorly children at QMC

Almost £7,000 has been raised for children at the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) this Christmas, thanks to a local baby and toddler group who teamed up with 20 local Co-op stores.

Little Lambs Baby & Toddler Group which operates from The Church of the Good Shepherd, Thackeray's Lane, Woodthorpe, was so inspired by the care received by three children known to them - Sophia Benedek, Poppy McGill and Aurora Pennacchia - that the group decided to fundraise to try and buy every poorly child at the QMC a Christmas present.

Through a dedicated coffee morning and further generous donations, Little Lambs raised £758.58. One of the Little Lambs team, Sarah Benedek, who knew the manager at the local Co-op Gedling Road store, mentioned this campaign in passing and was overwhelmed by the response.

"I knew Debs Bradley through joint fundraising work we do at Gedling Country Park. I happened to mention that it would be great if we could bring a little Christmas magic to the poorly children at QMC this year and she was an absolute star, certainly far exceeding any hopes we had," said Sarah Benedek, who was inspired to raise funds after her own daughter received treatment at the Children's Ambulatory Care Unit at QMC earlier this year.

Debs Bradley, Store Manager of Co-op Gedling Road, took the idea to her area manager, Alastair Cook, who persuaded all 20 stores in his care to join the campaign.

"When Debs raised the idea at the monthly regional meeting, it was a no-brainer. All of my 20 store managers agreed to help straight away. Just by simple actions such as putting buckets by till points for customers to drop in their loose change, our local stores collected £6,210.45 in six weeks. I am so proud of my team and the amazing customers who generously supported this campaign," said Alastair Cook, Area Manager for Co-op Stores.

Sarah Benedek kept in close contact with both Debs Bradley from the Co-op for financial updates and with the QMC play specialists to ensure the combined total of £6969.03 was spent on items that the children needed.

Earlier this week, Little Lambs representatives, including one-year-old Aurora Pennacchia who received cochlear implants at the QMC, along with store managers from the Co-op, delivered the Christmas gifts to the hospital.

Rebecca Burke, Group Leader for Little Lambs said: "We're truly overwhelmed by how such a small idea has snowballed into something so amazing. We're so grateful to the hospital for looking after our children so well and we wanted to give something back. We cannot thank those who attend Little Lambs and the Co-op enough for getting on board, especially all their customers for supporting this project."

The money raised has been used to equip a new teenage room with the latest gaming gadgets including a PS4 and 32" TV plus games.

More than 10 portable DVD players were also purchased, to distract children attending for day treatments and operations. Local families, Co-op customers and staff donated hundreds of DVDs to keep the children entertained while receiving treatment.

There was enough money to refresh the toys in the treatment waiting areas and over £2,000 was spent on Christmas presents and gift cards for Santa to give out next week. A bag full of batteries and over 50 metres of gift wrap was also provided.

In addition, the generous volunteers at the Gedling Play Forum donated paints, paper and craft activities for the children to enjoy.

Claire Wright, Play Specialist at the Children's Ambulatory Care Unit, QMC said: "We are just so overwhelmed by these generous donations. It's been absolutely amazing. To us, this is the most amazing big deal."

Finally, Co-op also donated food and treats to be enjoyed throughout the festive period by anyone on ward, including the doctors, nurses and support workers.

"They might not be at home for Christmas but we've been able to bring a little bit of festive magic to the children, their families and the army of angels who look after them on ward this year," concludes Deb Bradley, Store Manager of Co-op Gedling Road.

ENDS // 691 words NOTES TO EDITORS Little Lambs is a baby and toddler group, based in the parish centre of The Church of The Good Shepherd on Thackeray's Lane on Mondays from 10.30am-12.30am during term-time. Steve McGill, father of four-year-old Poppy McGill, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year and who featured on the BBC documentary 'Hospital', is a regular supporter and entertainer at the group. Poppy, along with her brother Luke attended Little Lambs.

The 20 Co-op stores who participated in this fundraiser are:

PHOTOS


      IMAGE 1, left to right:

      Stuart Thomas - Netherfield Store Manager;
      Debs Bradley - Gedling Road Store Manager
      Claire Wright - QMC Ambulatory Care Play Specialist
      Sarah Benedek - Community Fundraiser
      Rebecca Burke - Little Lambs
      Aurora with Mum, Gemma Pennacchia - who received cochlear implants in the
      Children's Hospital
      Kylie Holmes - Sneinton Store Manager
      Linda Kirker - Co-op Sneinton Team Leader



      IMAGE 2, left to right:

      Alastair Cook - Co-op Area Manager
      Andy Parson - Co-op Burton Joyce Store Manager
      Stuart Thomas - Co-op Netherfield Store Manager
      Siobhan Atkinson-Want - Co-op Gedling Road Team Leader
      Linda Kirker - Co-op Sneinton Team Leader
      Debs Bradley - Co-op Gedling Road Store Manager
      Kylie Holmes - Co-op Sneinton Store Manager
      Andrew Brown - Co-op Burton Joyce Team Leader


3 Thackeray's Lane, Woodthorpe, Nottingham, NG5 4HT. Tel: (0115) 926 8288