Spread a Smile Party

Sunday 5th November saw the return of our annual party extravaganza for all the children, teenagers and families that we have entertained and supported whilst receiving treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College Hospital, The Royal London Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital, and this year’s party was even bigger and better than before!

The party took place at the Marriott Hotel Regents Park in London, and over 350 guests were invited. The space was packed with fun, games and edible treats, with something for every age to love. Children were able to adopt and dress their very own Build-a-Bear cuddly toys, taking their newly-named furry friends home. Those who were feeling creative made their own beaded jewellery and designed colourful t-shirts. The adventurous and curious had their minds boggled by wacky Mad Science experiments with Helium Helen and Sonic Shane, and the slime was a particular crowd-pleaser!

  

Guests with an inclination to perform tried their hand at Carpool Karaoke: it was the full James Corden experience, as they sat in a special booth in front of a green screen, and could see themselves driving in a car whilst warbling the latest hits! There was a Virtual Reality experience, where the children and teenagers donned goggles and could play different games. A favourite game allowed the user to swim with dolphins, and one of the children whose dream it is to do just that exclaimed, ‘I can’t believe I got to swim with dolphins!’ There was a photobooth so the kids could take funny snaps with their families. And a Silent Disco got everyone boogying on the dancefloor in their headphones whilst dressed in fun accessories provided by Novelties Direct. Thanks to JH Video Booth and Happy Snappy Memories for all the wonderful technological wizardry.

Innovative ice cream company Pan’n’Ice were there to make ice cream before our very eyes! Self-proclaimed ‘icecreampreneurs’ Rob and Henry discovered a new way of making ice cream, by mixing up fresh ingredients on frozen plates, whilst on holiday in Thailand in 2015. They were so taken with the ingenuity of the process that on return to London, they were inspired to create Pan’n’Ice. Kids and adults alike were astonished by the delicious frozen treats that Rob made on Sunday. Andy Daniel who attended with his family said, ‘Such amazing ice creams from Pan’n’Ice! Thank you so much for spreading a smile for our family.’

But that wasn’t the end to the edible goodies. Everyone’s favourites, Lola’s Cupcakes, were there again so guests could decorate and take home scrumptious cakes. Heavenly Crepes provided yummy crepes and waffles. A Team Occasion sculpted candy floss treats. Nu Nosh kept our guests fortified with tasty sandwiches. Coca Cola provided water and Capri Sun to keep our thirst quenched. And our corporate supporters, timber and building merchants Lawsons, had built us our very own Sweet Shop so the kids (and quite a few adults!) could indulge in the pick’n’mix provided by Gobstoppers.

  

All our guests had the chance to feel glamorous with make-up artist Tamara Gitter on hand to make them over, and manicurists from Nails by Mets to make their nails sparkle with polish provided by Barry M Cosmetics. And, of course, our talented Spread a Smile face painters were on hand to transform the children into superheroes and fairies with their paints and glitter tattoos.

  

The party atmosphere wouldn’t have been complete without our wonderful Spread a Smile entertainers. Magicians Jamie Raven, Paul Megram, Martin Rees and Daniel Reed circulated doing close-up magic to astonish the guests. Fairy Natalie was there to sparkle a little fairy dust. Judge the Poet astonished with his word play. Talented artist Alessandra Tortone created a giant piece of wall art for the guests to add to. Cuddly Cassie and Oscar, our therapy dogs, were there to delight with cuddles and tricks. Singer Collette Spinner regaled the crowd with a special rendition of ‘Let It Go’ – still a firm favourite with the youngsters! The younger guests were also overjoyed to meet their TV hero Chase from Paw Patrol who, along with our special cuddly mascot Buddy Bear, was there for hugs and selfies thanks to Rainbow Productions. While the adults were charmed by the actor Christian Vit, who plays doctor Matteo Rossini on Holby City. Christian spent the whole party chatting with our guests and posing for photos. Thanks to Alex Taibel and her daughter for taking such wonderful pictures of the event.

After all the fun, guests went home with going home gifts and special presents from Mattel and Skinny Dip, as well as colourful balloon creations by modeller Bradley Bronson.

  

It really was a party to remember and we were so pleased to give all the inspiring children and their families a chance to have fun together and create some wonderful and uplifting memories at such a challenging time in their lives.

We have already had some lovely feedback from the families. Tara Hutton, mum to Milla and Lorcan, said, ‘Thank you so much for a wonderful day. [Lorcan] was totally star struck to meet his all-time hero [Chase from Paw Patrol], and both he and his big sister have gone to bed with their new teddies.’

Annette Stevens who came with her family said, ‘A great day; thank you so much to everyone involved. My two children had a ball and thought everything was amazing, including their first ever silent disco, and the Dad-and-daughter karaoke!’

Sally Green commented, ‘Thank you all for such a great party today. It is such a privilege to be invited. You are all amazing, kind, inspiring people! Lily had a ball; she has gone to bed with her Build-a-Bear teddy ‘Maisy’. A very happy little girl!’

Andrea Hanbury, who came with her four daughters Keeva, Sorcha, Roisin and Ailbhe and husband Tommy, said, ‘Such an amazing day! Thank you all so so much! The girls had a really fantastic time and had happy smiles on the way home!’

Debra Kaye said, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for an amazing day as always. Lots of love to each and every one of you and all the helpers for making today so special for the children. The girls absolutely had a blast. Claire loves being able to have fun and not worry about ‘being poorly’ or anything except having fun and enjoying herself with her sisters. You are all superstars!’

A special thank you to all the wonderful companies who helped us make the party truly spectacular, the hard-working volunteers for making it all run smoothly, our amazing Spread a Smile entertainers for spreading smiles, Lawsons for their incredibly generous support of the event, and Marriott Hotel for hosting us once again!