News

Painting Proton Masks

602 402 Rosie Perkins

We are so proud to be able to support children and teenagers undergoing treatment at the new Proton Beam Therapy Centre at University College Hospital, London (UCLH).

The centre, which saw its first patients in December 2021, will offer world-leading proton beam therapy to patients of all ages, targeting tumours precisely while reducing the long-term side effects of treatment. 

Children and young people undergoing radiotherapy treatment for head, brain or neck cancers are required to wear a mask or mould so the treatment can be delivered as precisely as possible. This can be an incredibly frightening experience. Spread a Smile has been painting radiotherapy masks at UCLH since February 2018 and since this time, our Head of Art, Marina, has painted hundreds of masks. The masks patients wear for proton treatment are slightly different.

In December, Marina was invited into UCLH to paint her first trial m ask and we are so proud to be working in partnership with the hospital to be able to provide masks for all child and adolescent patients. 

As with all Spread a Smile’s work, each mask is completely personalized. Marina takes a full brief and brings the child’s ideas to life on their mask. The trial proton mask she painted in December, which you can see pictured here, features rainbows and butterflies

Laura Walter, Director of Services at Spread a Smile said: “All those little details are so important when it comes to painting the masks. Marina always ensures she incorporates any specific requests, that favourite colours are included for example. This gives patients as much control over their situation as possible, helping to make the experience less frightening and more positive.

“We are proud to be working with our partner UCLH to support their patients going through proton beam therapy treatment. The Play Specialists put in many hours so children can cope with their treatment effectively and being able to deliver hand-painted personalised masks helps to further reduce their anxieties. It helps to make a very clinical environment more child friendly.”

Our Impact & 3 Year Plan

761 523 Suzanne Brennan

It was April 2013 when Spread a Smile made the charity’s first in-person visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital.  Since then, our magicians, fairies, musicians, artists, therapy dogs and support services have been making a profound and positive difference to the lives of thousands of critically ill children and young people under the care of our growing network of NHS hospital partners.

The importance of providing seriously ill and hospitalised children with enhanced play and entertainment has never been more important than over the last 21 months, when the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and hospital lockdowns led to extended periods of separation, isolation, increased anxieties and long monotonous days.

We were one of the first charities to adapt to online provision and did this within a month of the first lockdown.  Our digital services including virtual entertainer visits, virtual holiday and after-school clubs and Smile TV have grown and developed and, since March 2020, we have delivered interactive play, art & craft workshops and engaging entertainment to thousands of children and young people in hospital and outpatient care. Digital has become a critical and much-valued element of our service provision, complementing our in-person hospital visits, enhancing the range and diversity of our services and increasing our impact.

Please click on the link above to watch a video summary of our three year plan, which puts us on the road to national status by 2024.

We are also pleased to share our IMPACT REPORT with you today which I hope gives you an insight into the incredibly positive difference we are able to make to so many children, young people and their families.

At Spread a Smile we remain committed to delivering bespoke services that support young patients through long and difficult hospital stays, provide a distraction from pain and treatment, build self-esteem and provide rare moments of joy.

Thank you for all you have done to make this possible. We couldn’t have done any of this without you. If you have any questions, comments or ideas to support our plans, please do get in touch by emailing info@spreadasmile.org

The Smiles Say It All

830 615 Suzanne Brennan

Thanks to hundreds of individual acts of kindness by you – our amazing partners, the toy industry and individuals, we’ve created positive distractions from pain and treatment, alleviated the monotony of the hospital environment and created positive memories for thousands of seriously ill children and young people under the care of our NHS hospital partners.

  • Nearly 400 children met Santa in our virtual Christmas Grotto
  • 3,500 children under the care of our NHS hospital partners received a Christmas gift
  • 425 children in outpatient care received a Smile Hamper
  • More than 1,000 chocolate treats were enjoyed by children and young people

It makes a grand total of 4,325 smiles.  None of which would have been possible without…

  • Individual supporters who donated more than 400 gifts in person or via our annual toy drive
  • The incredible support from the toy industry including Hasbro, Spin Master, Cheatwell Games, Alligator Books, The Paper Box, Hunter Price, Character Options, Staedtler, Aurora World, OTL Technologies, Playmonster, Acamar Films, Swizzels, Playmobil, Grant & Bowman, Derwent Art, LUSH, SEGA Europe and Mattel
  • Moonpig who donated 500 sacks for Santa to fill with gifts
  • Employees of Hain Daniels who donated more than 200 gifts through their Christmas Wish Tree initiative – with each gift matching a child’s likes and hobbies
  • Employees of Blackrock who created their own gift drive and collected more than 250 gifts
  • Employees of ICBC Standard Bank for gift donations via our annual toy drive
  • Employees of Masthaven Bank for donations and gift hampers plus helping us pack hundreds of Smile hampers
  • Blink for the donation of advent calendars
  • Employees of the Tulchan Group who made up more than 70 individual gift bags brimming with toys and chocolate

Onbehalf of every child, every parent and carer and all at Spread a Smile.  Thank you.

Festive Hospital Visits

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Our elves, magicians, fairies and entertainers have continued visiting children at six of our NHS hospital partners in London throughout December. We have also been running art & craft and cupcake decorating workshops as well as posting fun and engaging videos and tutorials to Smile TV.

In addition, our artists have created hundreds of artworks to adorn hospital windows, each at the request of hospital play teams or individual patients.

Comedy Night

1024 683 Suzanne Brennan

Oh, what a line-up. Oh, what a show!

An amazing inaugural Stand Up Comedy Night at the Comedy Store, Leicester Square, hosted by leading comedian, Suzi Ruffell  – truly the best night out-out of the year. Also starred Joel Dommett, Darren Harriott, Iain Stirling, Maisie Adam, Daniel Foxx and Kerry Godliman.  Thank you to all our comedians for their support but especially to Suzi for her commitment, positivity and energy.  We hope our comedy night will become an annual feature in our events calendar.

A big thank you also to our generous sponsor, Canary Wharf Contractors.

 

Thank you

1024 768 Suzanne Brennan

Thanks to hundreds of acts of kindness by our amazing partners, the toy industry and individuals, we have delivered toys, games, toiletries and art supplies to thousands of seriously ill children and young people under the care of our NHS hospital partners.

Thanks to your support we have:

  • Nearly 400 children met Santa in our virtual Christmas Grotto
  • 3,500 children under the care of our NHS hospital partners received a Christmas gift
  • 425 children in outpatient care received a Smile Hamper
  • More than 1,000 chocolate treats were enjoyed by children and young people

Please CLICK HERE for a Christmas message from Santa and our Director of Operations, Laura Walter.

We could not have spread so many smiles without…

  • Individual supporters who donated more than 400 gifts in person or via our annual toy drive
  • The incredible support from the toy industry including Hasbro, Spin Master, Cheatwell Games, Alligator Books, The Paper Box, Hunter Price, Character Options, Staedtler, Aurora World, OTL Technologies, Playmonster, Acamar Films, Swizzels, Playmobil, Grant & Bowman, Derwent Art, LUSH, SEGA Europe and Mattel
  • Moonpig who donated 500 sacks for Santa to fill with gifts
  • Employees of Hain Daniels who donated more than 200 gifts through their Christmas Wish Tree initiative – with each gift matching a child’s likes and hobbies
  • Employees of Blackrock who created their own gift drive and collected more than 250 gifts
  • Employees of ICBC Standard Bank for gift donations via our annual toy drive
  • Employees of Masthaven Bank for donations and gift hampers plus helping us pack hundreds of Smile hampers
  • Blink for the donation of advent calendars
  • Employees of the Tulchan Group who made up more than 70 individual gift bags brimming with toys and chocolate

Inspirational Art Workshop

964 536 Suzanne Brennan

Drawing is always a favourite activity for all children, allowing them to express themselves, develop their creativity and imagination.  For seriously ill and hospitalised children art and craft activities also bring therapeutic benefits and have the ability to reduce their anxieties, build their self-confidence and act as a distraction from pain, treatment and the monotony of the hospital environment.

We are therefore thrilled to be working with one of the country’s leading art suppliers, Derwent, on some inspirational festive art activities.  The first of the art workshops learning to draw a polar bear, a fox and a reindeer was hosted by professional artist and illustrator, Claudine O’Sullivan.  Derwent also sent pencil sets to be distributed to all participating children and young people to ensure their creatures were as colourful and inspirational as Claudine’s.

Watch Claudine’s workshop HERE

Charlotte Watson, Global Brand Manager said, “At Derwent, our mission is to delight artists and inspire them to keep discovering. But our work doesn’t stop there. We also support charities that use art to benefit seriously ill children. We are delighted and proud to support such a worthy charity as Spread a Smile, whose hard work goes towards supporting thousands of terminally ill children and their families.

 We have collaborated with Claudine O’Sullivan, Professional Artist and Illustrator to produce a virtual drawing workshop, along with three accompanying stencil designs for the children to follow along to in hospital. This initiative comes just in time for Christmas and the stencil designs represent three cute and festive animals; a polar bear, fox and a reindeer.  Thank you for the opportunity to collaborate, Spread a Smile!”

Santa’s Grotto goes live

399 325 Suzanne Brennan

This week and next we’ve moved our operations to the North Pole making it possible for hundreds of critically ill children and their siblings to meet Santa on virtual visits. Our entertainers are supporting every visit with songs, music, magic and fun.

And while they are keeping busy in Santa’s Grotto, our teams are on the road delivering thousands of your toys, games, books and art supplies to our NHS hospital partners for distribution to the children and young people in their care.  Throughout the Christmas period, thousands of critically ill children in hospital will receive a gift thanks to the generosity of so many Spread a Smile supporters.  We cannot thank you enough for helping us to spread so many smiles.  Your gifts will be distributed by play team staff to children at their bedsides and by Santa in hospital grottos.

Thank you to our friends and colleagues in the toy/games/art/book industry: Spin Master, Hasbro, Cheatwell Games, Alligator Books, The Paper Box, Hunter Price, SEGA Europe, Character Games, Playmobil, Staedtler, Aurora World, OTL Technologies, Playmaster, Acamar Films, Swizzels, Moonpig, Grant & Bowman, Derwent Art, Lush and The Toy Trust.

With special thanks to DPD and their incredible drivers for delivering gifts to all of our NHS hospital partners in London and beyond.

 

Smile Hampers spread festive smiles

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What an amazing few days delivering Smile Hampers full of very special gifts to children and young people in outpatient care and their siblings. Their smiles say it all.
With thanks to the WC Hackney Carriage Drivers for their amazing support and the many, many supporters and toy companies that so generously donated the toys, games, books and art supplies that lifted the spirits of every child and every parent.
And this is just the start of our festive plans – we’ve many more gift drops and Santa visits to come in the weeks ahead to make every child under the care of our NHS partners feel special.
CLICK HERE to see our short video of our first festive drops.
“Thank you all SO much for the amazing hampers, Austin and Annabelle were thrilled. Such an amazing gift, and Austin said ‘there are bad things about having a bad kidney but this is one of the good things!” Donna
“Thank you for your generosity and love. Your work is so important and I am a witness of how serious you take it… to spread smiles, even when you might be crying yourselves! We love you very much and wish you a blessing Christmas, full of smiles, hugs and kisses. THANK YOU ALL”  Talitha

House Cafe Company Partnership

1024 683 Suzanne Brennan

We are thrilled to launch an exciting new partnership with the amazing House Cafe Company and who better to help us mark the occasion but some of the children and young people we support and their families.

Everyone enjoyed a very special afternoon tea at The Riding House Cafe, Fitzrovia with an entirely sweet menu of favourite desserts including red velvet cake, ice-cream sundaes, malted deep dish pancakes with a host of delicious toppings and hot cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate dip Magic and art activities were provided by our entertainers, Paul, Ian and Judge and fun tattoos by our Head of Art, Marina.

With thanks to the team at The House Cafe Company for their fabulous hospitality. We look forward to working with you all.

Watch out for more news and activities at The Riding House Cafe, Fitzrovia and The Rail House Cafe, Victoria in the year ahead.

If you would like to find out more about working in partnership with us and spreading smiles please contact fundraising@spreadasmile.org