LITTLE Florence Bark beams after getting a present from Santa – one of hundreds donated to our neediest children thanks to big-hearted Sun On Sunday readers.
Because of YOUR generosity our Xmas Cards For Kids campaign has been a huge success.
And this week presents were distributed across the country’s hospitals for children suffering from cancer this festive season.
We asked youngsters to draw pictures earlier this year and the brilliant efforts by three winners became limited-edition cards sold by our campaign partner Tesco.
The cash raised went towards funding research by our charity partner Children with Cancer UK, along with prezzies and games for kids on hospital wards.
At Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Florence, six, from Corby, Northants, hugged Santa and told him how excited she was about Christmas.
Florence has been having treatment for leukaemia since May.
Her mum Stacey, 33, a radiologist, dad Andrew, also 33, a headteacher, and nine-year-old brother Freddie have only spent three nights at home since she started treatment — including chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant — and know the chances of relapse are high.
Stacey said: “Florence can’t go out to see Santa, so having him come to her has been amazing. She was so excited.
“She wanted to wear her special Christmas dress for him.
“She’s worn princess dresses for her entire treatment and throughout it all she’s always managed to smile.
“Seeing Father Christmas has put us all in the Christmas spirit. It’s so wonderful knowing people care.
“It honestly made Florence’s day.”
Christmas also came early for children in hospitals in Bristol, Newcastle, Croydon, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, where more than 300 presents were given out.
At Birmingham Children’s Hospital, ten-year-old Finley Hill, of Belbroughton, Worcs, is in isolation after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in 2016.
He had a bone marrow transplant in November 2019 but relapsed and underwent another transplant this month.
Mum Jo, 48, a plant nursery owner, said: “It’s been tough on Finley as he’s already endured so much.
“We won’t know whether this one has been a success for 100 days or so.
“Seeing Father Christmas has made his day. To see the huge grin on his face has been amazing.
“He wasn’t able to leave his room. Having Santa wave through the glass and take some time with him was brilliant.”
Koby Thomas has also been in isolation in the same hospital.
Yet despite Koby’s weakened immune system, Santa delivered a board game to the thrilled ten-year-old, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in June.
His mum Rachel, 44, from Alvechurch, Worcs, said: “It’s been so hard on Koby, he’s been really poorly.
“Seeing Father Christmas made his day, and mine.”
A visit from Santa and a present sent with love was also just what nine-year-old Jenson Whittle needed.
‘TODAY IS AMAZING’
He was diagnosed with leukaemia in August then doctors found cancer in his liver.
His mum Sarah Romsley, 30, said: “He was in intensive care for two weeks. It was terrifying.
“I remember him telling me, ‘I may as well not be here any more, mum’.
“It was heartbreaking to hear your son thinking about not being around any more.
“He’s been really down, so seeing his smile at seeing Father Christmas was amazing.
“It’s incredible to see him so happy.”
Barnaby Williams, eight, from Rugby, Warks, who has medulloblastoma, a brain cancer, was thrilled to receive a board game he can play with his friends on the ward.
And a gift from Santa brought a smile to 12-year-old Madison Turner’s face too.
The young goalie was diagnosed with leukaemia just a week before his visit.
Her mum Teresa, from Nuneaton, Warks, said: “We’re still reeling from Madison’s diagnosis.
“It’s hard as she’s missing her school friends and football team, Nuneaton Borough. But it’s lovely having Father Christmas visit.
“We can’t thank all The Sun on Sunday readers enough.”
In Bristol, four-year-old Raeyah Rice has rare Wilms’ tumour, a type of kidney cancer.
After chemotherapy last December she went home for Christmas — only to be taken back to hospital on Christmas Eve.
Her dad Kevin, 39, said: “Staying in hospital last Christmas was tough. Raeyah has been so sick.
“She’s had her left kidney, where the tumour was, removed and has been in and out of hospital for a year.
“Seeing her meet Father Christmas for the first time has been so special.
“She’s missed out on so much because of how poorly she’s been, so today is amazing.
“We can’t thank everyone enough.”
Back in Sheffield, Ruby Hancock, ten, who is from the city and had a rare blood cancer diagnosed in March, shared a joke with Santa about his reindeer.
And ten-year-old Gianluca Fattore, from Nottingham, who has had two different types of leukaemia, was so delighted to meet Santa and receive a board game that he kept cuddling him.
His mum Claire said: “He was so excited, he kept popping back to visit Father Christmas again and again.”
The Christmas cards designed by our young readers are still on sale, so it is not too late to buy yours and help Children with Cancer UK.
Head to your local Tesco superstore to get yours.
Claire De Silva, Tesco’s head of communities, said: “We are really proud of this partnership, which supported Children with Cancer UK and the vital work they do.
“The Christmas cards have been a brilliant way to raise much-needed funds while enjoying the lovely festive designs.
“We know the colourful cards have been really popular with customers and helped to generate awareness and funds for Children with Cancer UK.”
Jo Elvin, chief executive of Children with Cancer UK, said: “We are so grateful to have partnered with The Sun On Sunday’s Xmas Cards Campaign.
“By buying these cards, the wonderful Sun On Sunday readers have helped raise awareness of the sad reality facing so many families — that of their child being treated for cancer this Christmas.
“The incredible donations will help us to continue funding research into kinder and less toxic treatments for these extraordinary kids.”
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