Children in Hospital
In 1993 the Club decided to introduce a special fund to be used to make life easier for children in hospital in the Belfast area or in special care units with close ties to hospitals. The fund would be called Children in Hospital Appeal with proceeds from the Club's Montgomery Bowl. This is a Silver Rose Bowl - presented in 1934 by the family of Harford H. Montgomery, the second President of the Club, as a memorial to him which at each meeting was filled by one of the members with flowers, to be sent afterwards to a hospital or to a member or his wife who was ill. Council took this decision as, invariably in practice, hospital staff did not have the time to arrange the donated flowers in vases and in some wards they were not allowed at all, so when each member was asked to contribute they would instead be given the choice of sending flowers or making a donation to the Children in Hospital Appeal. However members are reminded that when there is an appropriate recipient for flowers, they should choose that option.
During the first year of the new system, half of the money was donated to the Appeal. Since then the amount donated has averaged round 90%. Contributions are channelled through our charitable Trust Fund to enable us to reclaim VAT and increase the size of the donated gifts.
Several donations to children in hospitals have been made carefully targeted at areas where it really does "make a difference" and it is difficult to explain just how much these gifts mean to the children. The most striking thing we have found is that while the hospitals are almost always excellent in providing purely medical care, they sometimes seem to overlook the more personal problems. They seem to be able to spend millions of pounds in certain areas but struggle and delay to find small amounts in others.
We express our very sincere thanks to all our members and hope that we can continue this work for many years.
Recent gifts are detailed below - click on images to enlarge.
£562.29 from the Montgomery Bowl was presented to Tor Bank School's Occupational Therapy Department in October 2017. Suzanne Mee, Occupational Therapist, displays the funded selection of special 'toys' and equipment specially chosen by them to Past President Brian Ferguson.
The toys are special remote control ones for disabled children and facilitate children, who cannot ordinarily do so, play with a toy and the steps in the foreground help teach children to climb and descend stairs and when upended becomes a see saw rocker! Thanking the Club for the donation, which they are delighted with, Suzanne stresses how important the purchased items will be to the development and enjoyment of the disabled children.
Our latest gifts from the Club's Children in Hospital fund were presented to the Beechcroft Children’s Unit at Forster Green Hospital. They were handed over to Jacquie Wilson, the Children's Service Manager, by Past President Brian Ferguson on Friday 15 December. This unit is chosen at Christmas because the children there are from disturbed backgrounds and don't get to know the meaning of a happy family Christmas.
Beechcroft were delighted with our gifts and the Unit Manager thanking for them stressed how important this type of equipment is to help them to keep the children occupied and happy during their long periods in the Unit: “The wards inform me what a huge help your gifts have been towards making Christmas a much better experience for our young people.”
In October 10 2016 24" TVs were presented to NI Children's Hospice
for the children and families to use in the newly refurbished bedrooms.
Picture shows President Ivan McMinn and PP Brian Ferguson handing over the TVs to Jenay Doyle, Children's Hospice Community Fundraiser who subsequently wrote thanking the Club sincerely for the generous donation, noting that the Club's support is highly valued and truly treasured. She also expressed their thanks and appreciation to everyone who was involved in raising the funds for the TVs.
Picture right shows Club Past President Brian Ferguson handing them over to Ward Sister Karen Orr.
Special gifts were handed over to the Beechcroft Children's Unit at Forster Green Hospital
for Christmas. This unit was chosen at Christmas because the children there are from disturbed backgrounds and as a result they don't get to know the meaning of a happy family Christmas. They included 2 X-Box Games Systems complete with games and two additional wireless controllers for extra players. We also gave them two Sony Music Centres that can accept CDs and practically any type of i-phone or i-pod. They were included in Santa's gifts when he visited and unloaded his sleigh.
The Head of the Unit Jackie Wilson and the Ward Sister Karen Coombes were delighted with our gifts and stressed how important this type of equipment was to help them to keep the children occupied and happy during their long periods in Beechcroft.
Three Apple I-Pad Mini 3's complete with protective cases and screen protectors were presented to The Ulster Hospital, Acute Child Health Department - Paediatric Outpatients/Rapid Response Unit
. The ward sister in charge of the unit, Karen Orr, requesting them explained that the range of games now available on tablets can keep the children amused for hours and even the youngest patients are experts!
She advised that they will be invaluable in two main areas:
- to distract the children when they are first admitted with serious injuries and require detailed examination before they can be anaesthetized and
- when children are confined to bed for long periods and must rest with minimal movement to enable the early stages of healing to be successful.
The Club also have provided Mitchell House School, Belfast with a special piece of outdoor play equipment designed for children with disabilities.
Special equipment for the Occupational Therapy Department at Tor Bank School
As on many previous occasions the requests never cease to surprise us. This time the main item was a Deluxe Steam (body) Roller. This equipment literally squeezes the child between four rollers. Research has shown that children who show "hyperactive" behaviour can be calmed by getting them to crawl through the rollers. The child then continues under a "weighted" blanket and ends up passing through a tunnel. We could fully understand how this trip served not only to exercise but also to calm the children down! In addition to the "Roller" and the "Blanket" the Club also provided a number of action games which are required to amuse the children while they await their turn on the main pieces of equipment. The staff at Tor Bank passed on their sincere thanks from all the children who benefit every day from the generosity of Club members.
Musgrave Park Children's Physiotherapy Unit received specialised exercise equipment.
Some of the children the Physiotherapy Unit treats have, because of leg injuries, to spend an elongated time in bed. The physiotherapists find them unwilling to exercise and to encourage them they asked for special brightly coloured tricycles and a go-kart with full body supports and straps.
The Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Foster Green Hospital asked us for an X Box 360.
Opened in September 2010, the Unit, known as Beechcroft, provides specialist inpatient services for children and young people with mental health problems providing a therapeutic environment centred both on the young person and their family and promoting which enables a better understanding of how young people, with mental health problems, can be successfully treated and returned to living in the community.
The young people in the unit are inclined to spend a lot of time on their own and the members of staff are keen to encourage them to play electronic games. We were able to supply two units complete with software. The picture shows Jackie Wilson, Ward Manager, and PP Brian Ferguson with the XBoxes after the presentation.
The manager in her thank-you letter said: "The young people of Beechcroft will get great pleasure from your gifts and hopefully will be aided in their recovery to good health". Many thanks again from all the staff and young people of Beechcroft."
Children's Trauma Unit in the Ulster Hospital requested children's posters and pictures
A request from the Children's Trauma Unit in the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald September 2011 was, as usual, something a bit different! This time it was a very interesting and comprehensive range of children's posters and pictures of everything from Disney characters to animal world maps.
Research has shown that when the children are in the various waiting areas before going in for check ups or operations, they are extremely nervous. While it is possible to give them medication at this stage, it is preferable to keep them calm by asking them questions about the pictures which will now cover all the walls and ceilings!
The unit also asked for two portable DVD players for children who are confined to bed for lengthy periods following serious accidents.
In December 2011 we had a request from Mitchell House for i-pads which are very much a part of the ICT provision within the school and are of particular relevance to the children who are confined to wheelchairs. Unfortunately the school's request to the Belfast Education & Library Board was turned down and so we were able to step in with two i-pads complete with cases, educational software and insurance. The headmistress wrote to thank us: "It is brilliant to be able to improve skills with the latest technology".
A Wii consul was requested by Tor Bank School at the Ulster Hospital.
Many of the children there cannot play the games that children love to play. Fortunately computers have come to the rescue and now enable children, when using a Wii Console, to literally 'play' games such as electronic tennis by controlling the "ball" from a hand held device. This technology really does give the participants the sensation of playing in a real game. These systems are extremely sophisticated and are not cheap but if you have any doubt about value for money, you need only to see the children's faces when they play on it.
At the other end of the technology scale we were also asked for a rocking chair! The chair was for use in the quiet room where children are taken when they get over excited. Staff were advised that a rocking chair was effective as part of the calming process. An anonymous member donor kindly provided the chair.
Photograph shows a nurse in Tor Bank (with fun face-paint) showing a boy how to use a previously donated push light switch.
A single contribution to Heartbeat-NI - Heartbeat-NI, among other charities, supports the Clark Clinic at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. The clinic is the paediatric cardiac centre for Northern Ireland and our contribution of £1000 was used to help purchase an MRI Scanner for this unit. Heartbeat-NI undertook to raise a quarter of the one million pounds required to purchase this scanner. Three other charities will raise the balance and they all agreed on a time scale of one year!
Over 200 babies with heart conditions are born in Northern Ireland each year. At present they have to be transferred from the clinic to the adult scanners in the other hospitals. These scanners are not set up for babies and there are risks during the transfer process. A dedicated scanner will bring real benefits to the many children who will require heart surgery there. As the Chairman of Heartbeat-NI said to me – if only he could find another 249 organisations like the Rotary Club of Belfast!
Tor Bank School requested a resistance tunnel and a weighted blanket as used by the SAS for training. They advised that their little "troopers" took hours rather than seconds to complete the tests! We also bought them a special recumbent bicycle and an adjustable scooter board with support straps.
The Child & Family Unit, Forster Green, requested a number of handheld electronic games. We also supplied some table and playground games and a camera. (shown left)
A special exercise bicycle which can adjust to special slow speeds for the Physiotherapy Unit Musgrave Park.