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Suzanne Brennan

Toast on Good Morning Breakfast

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Dame Maureen Lipman and Heidi Nathan appeared on Good Morning Britain on Friday 30 July to talk about their friendship, early morning walks throughout lockdown and the many savoury and sweet recipes that inspired their cookbook, This Book is Toast.


To purchase the cookbook please click HERE.  All author proceeds from sales will go to Spread a Smile.

Dame Maureen Lipman DBE is a theatre, film, radio and television actor, writer and comedian. She was made a Dame in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to charity, entertainment and the arts.  Heidi Nathan is Spread a Smile’s Trust and Foundation’s Manager.


This Book is Toast

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Purchase your copy for £12 including P&P by clicking HERE.  While you are enjoying your toast know that 100% of the author’s proceeds will go to Spread a Smile. 

Few of us can resist toast.  It is a blank canvas with endless possibilities.  What to have on toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner became a continual discussion for home cook, Heidi Nathan and her good friend, Dame Maureen Lipman, on their socially distanced walks throughout lockdown.  And, what started as banter, became a project and finally a cookbook.

Most of the recipes in This Book Is Toast  have simple store-bought ingredients plus a bit of cooking and overall they’re simple, quick recipes that will lift every slice of toast, be it white, brown, wholemeal, seeded or sourdough.

Heidi is Spread a Smile’s Trust & Foundation Manager and a key member of our fundraising team.  Congratulations Heidi – we look forward to testing every tempting topping!

New Two Year Partnership with Hartley’s

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Hartley’s, the UK’s no. 1 jelly brand, is proud to announce its partnership with the amazing charity, Spread a Smile. The charity brings joy and laughter to seriously ill and hospitalised children and their families during intensive treatment and extended hospital stays.  Every year they spread smiles to thousands of children and teenagers under the care of their NHS hospital partners through entertainer visits, outings & events & art initiatives.

The two year partnership will help increase awareness of Spread a Smile, raise money to ensure their amazing work can continue, and ultimately brighten the lives of even more seriously ill children and their families throughout the UK. With spreading smiles being at the heart of everything both brands do, the link up felt like the perfect fit.

The first look at the partnership can be seen across Hartley’s jelly pots, which are in supermarkets now and for the next three months. The multipacks feature two images of children enjoying a Spread a Smile entertainer visit, one from a fairy and the other a magician and the smiles on their faces say it all*.

On top of this, Hartley’s have committed to donate a minimum of £50,000 to the charity through the sale of these marked packs but have a desire to raise even more! This donation will enable Spread a Smile to support more seriously ill and hospitalised children through its growing network of NHS hospital partners throughout the UK.

In celebration of the launch, Hartley’s and Spread a Smile are kicking off with  ‘Jelly Week’ across the first week of May. This week will be full of jelly related activities for the children in hospital to enjoy, such as jelly art, a jelly escape room and jelly play (all delivered virtually) as well as a delivery of more than 1,000 strawberry balloons and jelly pots – one for every child across the charity’s hospital partners.

David Atkinson, Managing Director at Hartley’s says: “The partnership between Hartley’s and Spread a Smile is something that we are really proud of as a business. It’s brilliant that Hartley’s can use its national presence to take the “Spread a Smile” charity into hundreds of stores and millions of households. All to help highlight the fantastic work that is done by “Spread a Smile” in our nation’s hospitals. Hartley’s Jelly has always been about bringing a bit of wobbly fun, it is wonderful that we can help light up some faces with smiles for those in hospital who need it most. We look forward to growing both our corporate and brand partnerships over time.”

Lucy Jackson, CEO of Spread a Smile responded, “We are more than delighted to be partnering with Hartley’s. It is such a brilliant brand fit all round and I know together, we will be able to spread many more smiles to seriously ill and hospitalised children. Both the awareness and the funds this collaboration will bring to Spread a Smile will be transformative to our organisation and we are incredibly grateful for this support and this opportunity.”

Look out for our marked packs that come in 4 different varieties, Strawberry, Raspberry, Strawberry No Added Sugar and Raspberry No Added Sugar.

Pictures from Jelly Week:

Breaking Down Digital Barriers

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Spread a Smile, the children’s hospital entertainment charity, is thrilled to announce that, thanks to its partners, Bregal Milestone, it will be further supporting seriously ill and hospitalised children through the provision of digital devices.  More than 40 iPads have been distributed to play specialist teams across the charity’s network of hospital partners which will be used to distract children during extended hospital stays and treatment and more significantly during lockdown, increase their connectivity with family and friends.

Lucy Jackson, Chief Executive of Spread a Smile, said, “We’re so grateful to everyone at Bregal Milestone for their commitment to increasing digital access for hospitalised children, helping to break down the digital divide and spreading smiles.  This last year has highlighted just how important it is to the wellbeing of children isolating in hospital to maintain their connection with friends and family at home.  Sadly, so many children do not have access to their own devices.  These iPads will enable them to maintain those connections as well as enjoy a host of educational apps and games plus Spread a Smile’s virtual entertainer visits and Smile TV.”

The iPads come at a critical time.  Hospital lockdown restrictions will continue for the foreseeable future meaning communal play spaces remain closed, children are confined to their beds and restricted to only one parent visitor.  Over the last year Spread a Smile has transformed its service delivery to ensure it could continue to support children by providing a range of digital entertainment and play options including virtual one to one entertainer visits, group sessions, activity days, after school clubs and Smile TV – an entertainment channel filled with videos and clips from our entertainers and famous faces.

Jan Bruennler, Philippe Lautenberg and Cyrus Shey, Managing Partners at Bregal Milestone, said, “The entire team at Bregal Milestone is pleased to have partnered with Spread a Smile and IT providers, Arkphire to give children in hospital these new tablets during Covid-19. In these times of strict isolation, we hope these tablets will allow children in hospital to stay connected to their loved ones, to enjoy Spread a Smile’s entertainment and to feel much love and companionship from friends, family and Spread a Smile.”

Hayley Gilburt, Senior Play Specialist at St George’s Hospital, said, “We’re so happy with our brand new iPads from Spread a Smile. They arrived setup with lots of games for our patients to play. This is so helpful when distracting patients during painful and scary procedures. They also provide a great way for our patients to access all sorts of virtual entertainment and activities put on by Spread a Smile. We have been enjoying some fantastic magic shows, balloon modelling, art sessions and much more with them.” 

The iPads are all on a managed system which means they are come preloaded with age-appropriate games, educational and communications apps and allows the charity to upload new games and apps to meet with growing demand.  They have been delivered along with branded shockproof cases to GOSH, UCLH, St Mary’s Hospital, St George’s Hospital, The Royal Brompton, Evelina Children’s Hospital, Kings College Hospital, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Southampton Hospital.

Everyone Connected

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At a time when accessing digital services couldn’t be more important, we are delighted to be working with the Good Things Foundation and BBC Children in Need on the Everyone Connected project – an initiative that aims to tackle digital exclusion and increase digital access to disadvantaged families throughout the UK.

Spread a Smile was allocated 50 tablets (each with six months free wifi access) which we have given to families of seriously ill and hospitalised children who did not have their own devices.  Our involvement with the project and its impact were recently highlighted by Children in Need.

All tablets have now been allocated to families with thanks to our NHS Hospital Partners.

Please Click HERE to watch Lucy Jackson’s interview regarding the Everyone Connected initiative

For further details on how Children in Need is tackling ditial exclusion please Click Here


TritonExec adopts Spread a Smile as charity partner

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How do you unite colleagues working in London and New York?  You make them walk/run the distance in between, all 3,459 miles!

We are thrilled to be working with the team at specialist recruitment company, TritonExec on their #TEmilesintosmiles challenge this April with an ambitious target of £10,000.

Ben Graham, Partner at TritonExec said, “We are honoured that Spread a Smile is our affiliated charity. The work they do is so inspiring and means so much to many seriously ill children and their families. Like TritonExec, Spread a Smile is boutique – meaning it may not be as well known as other larger charities and we want to do all we can to help promote their incredible dedication so more people are aware of how amazing they are as well as do everything in our power to raise as much money for them as possible.”

A big thank you to their teams on both sides of the Atlantic for not only taking on such a colossal challenge but also for nominated us as their charity partner of the year.

We look forward to working with such an energic and positive team.

To read more about TritonExec’s fundraising challenge please CLICK HERE

WWCS announces Spread a Smile as official charity partner

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WWCS has nominated Spread a Smile as its charity partner.

The team at London-based IT support & consultancy brings new skills and focus and is already working with us on joint projects and fundraising plans, including a 24-hour gaming marathon and skydive.

Katie Bain, Operations Manager at WWCS, said, “It’s easy to underestimate the impact a stay in hospital (of any length) has on a child. The amazing work that Spread A Smile does brings happiness, laughter and a welcome distraction to children and their families in hospital. It is an invaluable resource and a break from the often challenging circumstances they find themselves in. This is why the staff at WWCS voted unanimously, and are proud to partner with Spread A Smile.”

We’re incredibly grateful for all their ideas and support and delighted to be working with such a proactive company.

April Fundraising Round-Up

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In our April Fundraising Round Up we wanted to give a big shout out to our incredible fundraisers who, over the past month, have been busy helping us to spread smiles.  Sharron Marsh and her daughter, Caitlin (pictured) raffled a Fortnum & Mason Hamper raising over £1,100 and Year 6 at Hymers School in Hull raised £2,259 from their sponsored 10-Day Challenge.

Special mention to Hannah and Tom Jarvis and their amazing little boy, Ben, for their incredible fundraising efforts which have to date raised more than £22,000 for three charities who supported Ben through recent treatment, including Spread a Smile.  In their own words,“Mr Magic would make Ben howl with laughter during the darkest chemo days. Real belly-deep laughs that are pure joy to hear and lift your heart. No child should have to go through the sort of treatment plans that cancers like Ben’s require. But, if they do, it should be with the support of people like the Spread a Smile team – because it’s the smiles and laughter that get them through it.”  For more information on Hannah & Tom’s fundraising please Click Here 

Increasing access to our digital services

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We are absolutely thrilled to announce that thanks to a significant grant from our partners and friends at Bregal Milestone, we have secured 41 iPads to be shared across our NHS hospital partners.  The iPads will be remotely managed by the charity in conjunction with IT provider, Arkphire, and for use by those children and teenagers who do not have access to their own digital devices.  They will be a valuable tool in connecting children with their families and providing access to not only our digital services (virtual bedside visits and Smile TV) but also a host of other age-appropriate apps.

‘The entire team at Bregal Milestone is pleased to have partnered with Spread a Smile and Arkphire to give children in hospital these new tablets during covid-19.  In these times of strict isolation, we hope these tablets will allow children in hospital to stay connected to their loved ones, to enjoy Spread a Smile’s entertainment, and to feel much love and companionship from friends, family and Spread a Smile’.  Jan Bruennler, Philippe Lautenberg & Cyrus Shey, Managing Partners, Bregal Milestone

Photo (taken pre Covid-19) Cyrus Shey and the Bregal Milestone team joined Spread a Smile co-founder, Vanessa Crocker and our entertainers at The Royal Marsden Hospital 

The iPads along with Spread a Smile branded shockproof cases will be delivered to GOSH, UCLH, St Mary’s Hospital, St George’s Hospital, The Royal Brompton, Evelina Children’s Hospital, Kings College Hospital, Royal National Orthopeadic Hospital and Southampton Hospital this month.  They will all be preloaded with games, educational and communications apps that will support children during extended hospital stays distracting them from pain, treatment and the monotony of the hospital environment and, of course, spreading more smiles.  At a time when increasing connectivity and digital access for all families and children, the iPads could never be more welcomed by our hospital partners.

We cannot thank Bregal Milestone enough for making this a reality and increasing connectivity for so many children and families.


Marking World Book Day 2021

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World Book Day is the biggest celebration of its kind which aims to celebrate authors, books, illustrators and – of course – reading!  Children in hospital often struggle with their concentration and keeping up with their studies.  Supporting them through initiatives such as World Book Day is therefore imperative.

Every child should feel part of annual celebrations and events and, even in lockdown, we aim to spread smiles with a full programme of activities to bring the outside in.  On World Book Day and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Wonderbly to distribute 200 personalised books to children both in hospital and shielding at home. Daya and her sister, Jasmine, were two of the first to receive their special books, each printed to include their names throughout the story.

In addition, our very own Princess Leia delivered space-themed boxes full of hundreds of books to children and teenagers at Great Ormond Street Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital for all to enjoy and sent them a very special message from the official World Book Day illustrator and friend of Spread a Smile, Rob Biddulph.  CLICK HERE to see Rob’s message and find out his favourite book.