A specialist bed is now available for every parent staying overnight with their child on Altnagelvin’s Children’s Ward.
The beds were presented to the local hospital last weekend after a fundraising campaign was launched by a group of parents whose children have lifelong or life-limiting conditions.
Altnagelvin Parents’ Support Group launched the campaign in January and set themselves the whole of 2019 to raise the funds for 25 specialist glide away beds, which cost £900 each.
They reached their target within two days, thanks to generous donations from local businesses, families of sick children and through funds donated in memory of loved ones who had passed away.
Each of the beds are adorned with a plaque with the name of the person or organisation who donated the funds and those fundraisers were special guests at the presentation event.
Lisa Storey, chair of Altnagelvin Parents’ Support Group, said the group was overwhelmed at the response.
She said they realised that for many this was ‘more than just a bed,’ particularly for those who donated in memory of a family member.
“We never anticipated how important it would be to you to have your loved ones’ memories treasured and thought of by those of who may be experiencing a difficult time. We were privileged to help organise it.”
She said that having a bed when caring for a sick child will ‘help immensely.’
“It will help the families who are on the ward regularly and provide them with an opportunity for some good quality rest to help them cope a little better with what the next day can bring.
“It will help parents who are embarking on a very tough journey with a sick child. You have contributed to help parents who aren’t even parents yet, who like some of us, have no idea of the journey ahead of them.
“No doubt your plaques will be read many times by very grateful, very tired and very worried parents. Those parents will be extremely thankful for what you have done for them and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Yvonne Devenney, Paediatric Ward Sister, said the response was ‘overwhelming’ and is making such a difference to parents staying overnight on the ward.
Deirdre Mahon, director of Women and Children’s Services with the Western Trust, said it should not have taken so long for all parents to have a bed but it was an ‘absolute credit to the parents group who pushed and tried every way to make this happen.’