Snowflakes set to light up Barnsley’s Alhambra Centre for the first time
Over the past seven years, The Children’s Hospital Charity’s award-winning snowflake display has raised over £1m for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
For the first time, the Charity hope to display snowflakes on Barnsley’s Alhambra Shopping Centre this December to support Sheffield Children’s where it is needed most, including by redeveloping the hospital’s Cancer and Leukaemia ward.
The Children’s Hospital Charity is appealing to organisations, schools, and individuals across the local community to get involved and make this sparkling display possible.
Sheffield Children’s has remained open throughout the pandemic and continues to care for some of the most vulnerable children in our community. Alfie Powell’s family know just how vital that care is. Alfie, from Barnsley, was suddenly taken ill in July 2018.
Alfie’s mum Emma remembers: “He was just a normal two-year-old, running around in the park, his paddling pool and the garden the weekend before we had to take him into the hospital. He then started being sick, his temperature was soaring, and he was really unwell.”
After being referred by his local hospital, Alfie was transferred to the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s, where he was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour, which is a cancer of the kidneys.
He underwent weekly doses of chemotherapy and had surgery to remove his tumour and kidney. Thankfully, he entered remission in March 2019, just in time for his third birthday.
Emma continued: “The care was simply amazing, they all learned to understand Alfie, his ways and how to deal with him. On our first night, a nurse told us ‘don’t worry, we’re all a big family here’ and it is certainly true.
“We want to help make the ward to be the best it possibly can be, for all the children and families that are about to begin their journeys, as well as the friends we’ve made along the way who are still undergoing treatment.”
The family have now dedicated themselves to fundraising, to say thank you for saving Alfie’s life as well as to improve the environment for other families in the same situation.
The Cancer and Leukaemia ward provides treatment for cancer and blood disorders in children from babies through to 19-year-olds in South Yorkshire, including from Barnsley. It also sees patients from across the UK for chemotherapy, operations, and bone marrow transplants.
Alfie’s dad Aaron, who works at the Alhambra Centre, said: “I had never heard of the snowflake appeal until we were living on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward with Alfie.
“To see the lights shining as we travelled to Sheffield Children’s for his chemotherapy over the winter months always raised a smile for us. I would love to help recreate that feeling for any child that visits the Alhambra Centre this Christmas.
“The snowflakes are symbols of support from local people and businesses that wish to help improve the experience for children from across the region that require treatment. Please sponsor a snowflake this year and let us light up the Alhambra Shopping Centre together.”
The snowflakes will support Sheffield Children’s where it is needed most, including by transforming the Cancer and Leukaemia ward which treated Alfie into a brighter and refreshed space.
Dad Aaron continued: “The staff on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward are amazing. We were made to feel welcome and part of one big family by the nurses and other families, I will never forget the feeling of safety that created.
“Redeveloping the environment would make a massive difference though. We stayed briefly in one of the new wards after Alfie’s operation to remove his tumour and kidney.
“It is colourful, comfortable, modern and had its own en-suite bathroom. To have that comfort and privacy at one of the most difficult times of our lives was so important.”
Under the plans, more single patient bedrooms with en-suite facilities would be created, giving the opportunity for more patients to make the place their own and increase the space for a parent to sleep alongside them.
Sophie Coburn, Corporate Partnerships Officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “Our annual snowflake appeal brings people together with a shared goal to build a better future for the staff, patients and their families at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“Thanks to the support of businesses, schools, community groups, families and individuals, in recent years we have funded life-saving medical equipment, a state-of-the-art machine to analyse Vitamin D deficiency and contributed to three world-class new wards.
“The snowflakes are a highlight for staff working over the festive season and young patients spending their Christmas in hospital. Please join us to make snowflakes bigger than ever before, end 2020 on a high and transform our Cancer and Leukaemia ward.”