Posts Tagged :

spread a smile

Forever Colours – new hospice partner

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Spread a Smile today announces its newest hospice partner, Forever Colours, a children’s hospice which cares for families of children with learning disabilities and life-limiting and life-threatening conditions as well as those with profound-and-multiple learning difficulties across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

Spread a Smile’s mission is to bring joy and laughter to as many seriously ill children as possible in NHS hospitals, clinical settings, hospices and homes across the UK.  Forever Colours joins five other hospices, and 32 major and speciality NHS hospitals already supported by Spread a Smile, taking the charity one step closer to its aim, to spread smiles across the whole of the UK.

The Spread a Smile team of talented entertainers, including musicians, artists, magicians and therapy dogs, will support regular events for the children and their families at Forever Colours, spending quality time with patients and helping to spread smiles through music, magic, singing and more.  The most recent activity at Forever Colours, supported by the charity, was the hospice’s Summer Fete at the beginning of June which was attended by their entertainers.

Children and young people supported by Forever Colours will also benefit from treat drops and virtual entertainment, all with the aim of spreading smiles and a lot of happiness.

Forever Colours, family Support worker, Vicki Nicholson, is delighted by this partnership. “The joy the Spread a Smile team brings to the faces of the children and their families we support is always heartwarming to see, and we couldn’t be happier that this partnership is going to create more smiles! Everyone at Forever Colours is very grateful”.

Laura Walter, Spread a Smile Director of Services added, “It is a pleasure to be working with the amazing team at Forever Colours to help bring some joy and laughter to their children and families. Most recently we were delighted to join them for their Summer Fete, meeting some of the children and their families and helping to spread smiles with singing, music, balloons, bubbles and more. It was a very special day, and we are looking forward to many more in the future.” 

To find out more about Spread a Smile’s work supporting NHS hospitals and hospices, please click here.

Visit to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

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Spread a Smile has been supporting the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children for a few years through virtual sessions and treat drops, and it’s always very special when we visit the hospital in person.

Last month, a team of Spread a Smile entertainers along with our Director of Services Laura Walter and Marina our Head of Art, made the trip to Bristol. They visited and provided bespoke entertainment to many children and young people across six wards and ended the day at the hospital’s Activity Centre with the Centre’s Play Assistant Daisy saying:

Spread a Smile instantly engaged the children in the Activity Centre through song, sparkles, bubbles and magic! They came in with infectious energy and got down on the children’s level straight away. The parents and myself were just as engaged as the children!”

Laura from Spread a Smile added, “It’s important for us to reach as many children and young people across our hospital partners as possible – visiting in person where we can to provide much needed distraction, entertainment and joy during some of the most difficult times. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time, not only with the children and young people across the wards, but also with the brilliant Play Team at the hospital who already do so much for the children under their care. We are looking forward to making a return visit soon.”

Bristol Royal Hospital for Children is one of 32 NHS hospitals and five hospices supported by Spread a Smile, receiving support for seriously ill children and young people under their care through in-person and virtual entertainer visits and group sessions, seasonal activities, treat drops and more.

To find out more about Spread a Smile’s work, click here.

The Arsenal Foundation donates grant

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Spread a Smile, the charity on a mission to bring joy and laughter to seriously ill children in hospital via talented entertainers including musicians, artists, magicians and therapy dogs, has received a from The Arsenal Foundation, which will be put towards supporting the ongoing work that the charity provides across its hospital partners.

Arsenal Football Club has always understood the power it has to make a difference in the community and as the club has grown so has its ability to make that difference. Arsenal’s tradition of giving sees it make contributions to good causes local to the club.  Spread a Smile neighbours Arsenal, with its HQ situated nearby the club in Hornsey and its work highlighted by one of its members.

The Arsenal Foundation supported through a grant, following an application which included the story of one of their young fans, Amelia, aged 11, who fought a brain tumour and was supported by the Spread a Smile team during her long hospital stays and beyond.

Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile Chief Executive said of the grant, “We are immensely thankful to The Arsenal Foundation for their generous donation. The funding will help us spread more smiles in hospital which can make a significant difference to a child and their family during a challenging time. It is wonderful to receive support from the local community and we’re delighted to be neighbours with a Foundation that both supports our mission as well as drives its own initiatives for good.”

Gemma, Amelia’s mum, tells her daughter’s story:

“When Amelia was eight years old she started to experience headaches and stomach pain at night.  Her symptoms continued and we started noticing that she didn’t seem to be growing, wasn’t eating properly and started to lose weight, plus kept losing her balance.

Amelia was referred to hospital and an MRI scan revealed a large mass on her brain.  She was diagnosed with Germinoma, a brain tumour in January 2023.   What followed was four cycles of chemotherapy, during which time Amelia was often very unwell, in and out of hospital for blood transfusions.  It was an extremely emotional time for us all.  Amelia just wanted to be at home with her family!

In April 2023, Amelia was referred for a three-week course of Proton Beam Therapy at UCLH, during which time she and I stayed together, visiting hospital every day for treatment.  It was a very difficult time.  We were away from home and the rest of the family, and Amelia was often so ill we weren’t able to do anything else at all.  

My husband Scott had met some of the Spread a Smile team during a hospital visit.  They introduced themselves and offered to support us, mentioning a forthcoming day out at Mildreds restaurant and a planned tripped to see Frozen at the theatre. The outing gave us the chance to do something as a family.  We went to see Frozen just after Amelia finished her proton treatment and it was brilliant to have her sisters join in for such a special day out.

Having been under pressure financially due to needing to look after all our children, the outing was a well needed treat for the whole family and something we would never have been able to afford ourselves.

Spread a Smile gave us a place to be together, not having to worry about money.  There was entertainment including magic, singing and so much more to help cheer us all up and forget about all the other stuff we were going through.  It was amazing seeing the faces of our children!  The girls enjoyed face painting, balloon making and eating Lola’s cupcakes. 

I just sat down, relaxed and watched my children have fun and smile. 

Amelia rang the bell at Colchester Hospital in July 2023 to mark the end of her cancer treatment, but Spread a Smile is still supporting us and we enjoyed a family trip to the Lake District when Amelia finished her treatment.

Seeing Amelia go through her treatment was so hard.  She was so sick and there was so much worry and pain.  Being away from the family was extremely difficult and a very lonely time for me too.  Spread a Smile injected light back into our lives.  They gave us something to look forward to and a place to be together again as a family.  We will forever be grateful to the team.”

Mamma Mia – My, my what a show!

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My, my what a show! The team from Spread a Smile had a glorious afternoon taking nine of the families we support to see Mamma Mia the Musical at the Novello Theatre in London.

Our VIPS loved watching the smash hit musical, singing, dancing and clapping along and the smiles were as bright as the theatre lights.

After the show, our families were incredibly lucky to meet several members of the cast, who kindly gave up their time to pose for photos and answer any questions our families had. Tessa, 10, who wants to be performer asked, “do you ever forget your lines?” and “do all the cast members get on?”.

Lauren, mum of Elsa (13) said “Thank you so, so much for yesterday it was amazing and as I predicted Elsa has not stopped telling everyone especially how she “met the characters” – I keep telling her they are the cast! She has taken the programme into school today. I honestly cannot express our gratitude as always, words do not seem enough.”

A huge Spread a Smile thank you to the cast of Mamma Mia for being so amazing and taking the time out of their busy schedule to meet our families after the show – you’re all Super Troupers!

To find out more about our family events, click here.

5-a-side Football Tournament success

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Last Thursday saw Spread a Smile’s fifth annual 5-a-side Football Tournament take place, this time at Powerleague Shepherd’s Bush.

The sun was shining and we were delighted to welcome our teams for a competitive day of football and fun, with Spread a Smile magician Gary on hand to help keep everyone entertained in between games.

The tournament was closely fought, with Corinthia London emerging victorious and winning the cup, with Enra Specialist Finance coming a close second. Also congratulations to BN McVitie’s who won the plate.

Imogen Slazenger, Spread a Smile’s Head of Fundraising attended on the day saying, “It was a pleasure to welcome so many supporters and new friends for this brilliant event. A huge thank you to all everyone who joined us for their energy, enthusiasm and commitment helping to raise thousands of pounds to support our work spreading smiles to seriously ill children and their families when they’re needed most. We hope to see you back next year!”

Please get in touch with Alicia by emailing to find out more about next year’s football tournament or how you can support one of our other events.

Canary Wharf Contractors Fund Golf Day

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Earlier this month on a beautiful Summer’s Day, our friends at Canary Wharf Contractors Fund held their hugely popular charity Golf Day at London Golf Club.

The event is held every year to raise funds for their charity partners and Spread a Smile was honoured to be amongst them, with the charity’s Chief Executive, Lucy Jackson and Head of Fundraising, Imogen Slazenger attending on the day.

Welcoming almost 200 golfers to play on the renowned Jack Nicklaus designed championship course, the event was one to remember, with two of our brilliant magicians also joining in the fun with magic, tricks and fun for guests.

Lucy Jackson said, “We are so grateful to everyone at Canary Wharf Contractors Fund for their ongoing belief in and support of our work, helping to spread smiles to seriously ill children and young people across the country. Thank you to all those involved including everyone who played, bid on the silent auction, donated on the day and helped raise much needed funds for Spread a Smile and the other worthy causes.”

Please do get in touch with our Head of Fundraising, Imogen by emailing if you would like to chat about supporting Spread a Smile through a (fundraising) event.

Welcome Rosie, Alicia and Tash

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We are delighted to welcome three new members to the Spread a Smile family, Rosie Kimberley-Brooks who joins the Services team as Admin and Logistics Coordinator and Alicia Marriott and Tash Newall who join the fundraising team as Fundraising Manager and Fundraising and Events Officer respectively.

Read on to meet our brilliant new starters…

“I’m Alicia and I’m the new Fundraising Manager for Spread a Smile. I’ll be working on managing our Trusts & Foundations portfolio and also supporting our corporate partners and Spread a Smile’s special events – the next one being our Golf Days on the 18/19 September.

“I previously worked in the Fundraising Team at the Holocaust Educational Trust, where I gained extensive experience in all aspects of fundraising. I’m thrilled to join Spread a Smile’s fundraising family and am so excited for this new opportunity. It is a privilege to work for such a worthwhile cause.”

“My name is Rosie and I fulfil a new role for the charity within the Services team, supporting the everyday organisation of our activities with and for the families we support. My job is literally what it says on the tin; admin and logistics, and I love it already. I’ll be supporting the charity by focusing on organising various different things, ranging from stock taking of toys and donations, to sending out packs of new posters to the hospitals we support. We have the huge Summer Party coming up at the end of July, and a big task for me is sourcing donations from various brands. I’m really excited to see the gifts and donations when they all come in and please do reach out if you think you can support or donate in any way.”

“Before joining Spread a Smile I worked in the film and TV industry for 6+ years but was always left feeling like there was something more fulfilling out there for me. I saw that Spread a Smile had a job opening and I was so excited; the job role fits me like a glove. I’m most looking forward to being able to work hard and contribute to such a wonderful organisation.”

“I’m Tash, Spread a Smile’s new Fundraising and Events Officer and I support the fundraising team in general and particularly the running of our well-established events as well as supporting our Fundraising manager to develop new and engaging events. After just completing our Spread a Smile 5-a-side Football Tournament, which was such a success, we are now working towards our Golf days, which are already shaping up to be a wonderful couple of days!

“I recently graduated from University and from my degree I discovered my passion for events, although a part of me has always wanted to help children too. That is when I discovered Spread a Smile, and I admired their passion and work ethic, something I feel very proud to be a part of. I am most looking forward to bringing these events to life and getting the chance to see these smiles in person!”

Welcome to the Spread a Smile family Alicia, Rosie and Tash.

Fintern take on 3 peaks challenge

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Our fundraisers really are incredible, going the extra mile for Spread a Smile and raising funds through a range of different challenges and activities. Earlier this month a brilliant team from one of our corporate partners, Fintern/Abound, took on the Three Peaks Challenge in aid of Spread a Smile. climbing the three highest mountains in the UK in just 24 hours.

We spoke to Mark London, Chief Risk Officer at Fintern about the experience.

“Our Three Peaks team consisted of 12 staff members, plus two special guests from HSBC and EY. We set off on day one with a spring in our step for our first (and highest) peak, Ben Nevis, standing at 1,343 metres tall and the highest mountain in the UK.

“Sadly, the weather conditions were not on our side with polar gale force winds knee deep snow and a -15c wind chill factor making for arctic conditions at the summit. As a result, all organised tours were turned around at Corner 8, (approximately 1,200 metres) due to the need for additional gear to safely continue. It felt a bit frustrating not to reach the summit, but it was out of our control, and we were proud to have reached where we did in such difficult conditions. All in all, our first peak took 4 hours 40 and it was then on to the Lake District to take on Scafell Pike.

“Standing at 978 metres, Scafell Pike is England’s highest peak and welcomed us with much better weather conditions. The scenery was amazing as we approached in the evening sun, driving alongside Wast Water and the view from the top was so lovely. The team made it up and down in a speedy 2 hours 57 minutes, which we were really pleased with. We felt energised and even sprinted the last part of the descent to be sure to get in under three hours!

“Last stop was Mount Snowdon in Wales, and we were pleased to have good conditions for most of the way up before being met with strong, cold winds at the summit (1,085 metres). The round trip up and down Wales’s highest mountain, took a respectable 4 hours.”

“This was the second time I’ve undertaken the Three Peaks Challenge in support of Spread a Smile, and it was brilliant to do it again, this time with colleagues as a team building exercise and to raise even more funds for our charity partner. There was a huge sense of camaraderie as together we covered 26 miles (plus quite a few more in the van), climbed for nearly 11 hours and reached a total of nearly 2,900 metres and all in just 24 hours. What’s more, together we’ve raised over £3.5k to help spread smiles to seriously ill children and their families, which makes the effort even more worthwhile. “

Feeling inspired? Please do get in touch with the team to find out more about fundraising for us. Email today!

Support our Summer Party

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On Thursday 25 July, over 400 guests will join us for the annual Spread a Smile Summer Party, described by one parent as “the most fun per square metre in London.”

The Summer Party is a wonderful free event where we welcome the seriously ill children and young people we support along with their siblings and family members for a fun-filled day with loads of activities, entertainment and treats.

The party will take place at Coram’s Fields because of its proximity to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which means even more children receiving treatment will be able to join us.

Families can register to join our Summer Party here.

We want to make this our best Summer Party yet and give our families some very happy memories to treasure forever. Please donate what you can to help us to do just that.

£50 could pay for glitter tattoo kits so we can adorn all the guests with a sparkly tattoo

£100 could pay for nail varnish for our nail bar and as take-home gifts afterwards (which is for infection control purposes)

£500 could pay for all the drinks at the party

£750 could pay for reusable water bottles to gift to all children at the party

£1,000 could pay for costumes for our fancy dress corner

£1,500 could pay for chocolate, sweets, crisps and fruit

£2,500 could pay for art supplies for arts and crafts activities, including tote bag decorating, friendship bracelet making and lots more.

Donate here!

Thank you so much for your support.

Our Summer Party is back!

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Exciting news! The Spread a Smile Summer Party for the families we support will return to Coram’s Fields, London, on Thursday 25 July.

This very special free event will welcome hundreds of children and young people supported by Spread a Smile

along with their siblings, families and carers to spend a magical fun filled day with us. With stalls, games, activities, singing, music, magic, balloons, bubbles, delicious food and so much more, the aim is to provide an opportunity for families to enjoy a day out together, away from the pressures of treatment and illness.

Register here

Laura Walter, Director of Services for Spread a Smile said, “The whole Spread a Smile team is getting so excited for our annual Summer Party as it’s a real highlight of the year for everyone involved. As usual we’ve been working hard to make sure this year’s event is the biggest and best yet, with amazing support from some of our partners. There’ll be slime making with Slime Planet, a LEGO station, games and Play-Doh fun with Hasbro, biscuit decorating with McVitie’s, animal experiences with Anna’s Animals and loads of arts and crafts activities led by the Spread a Smile team and volunteers. This year we’ll also welcome our friends from Freddie’s Flowers for flower crown making, host an interactive gaming tent and be on the lookout for footballing talent with our giant inflatable football goal.

“There will be a chance to meet many of the Spread a Smile entertainers who will be there performing and spreading smiles and our VIP guests can look forward to lots of delicious treats from our wonderful friends at Lola’s cupcakes, Brigit’s Bakery, Mildred’s and the Wandering Pizza Company.

“We are looking forward to treating lots of the children and young people we support, along with their siblings and families to a very special fun day making lasting memories.”

Find out how you can support our 2024 Summer Party!

Pre-registration is required to attend, and you can sign up for free here.

Date: Thursday 25 July, 11am-3pm

Where: Coram’s Fields, 93 Guildford Street, London WC1N 1DN

Who’s it for? Families with children and young people up to the age of 18 with a long-term illness or condition and/or under ongoing care with a UK NHS hospital. We welcome siblings and family members too.