One very special little girl has asked for the public’s help as she tries to put smiles on other children’s faces this Christmas.
Six-year-old Alicia Nash has launched a toy appeal in aid of Wards 6 and 16 of Altnagelvin Hospital. Alicia’s mum Sarah Jane explained that the idea all came from when Alicia was a recipient of a different toy appeal while she spent some time in the hospital.
“Alicia has severe asthma so she has been in and out of Altnagelvin, especially every winter she has been going over and back. A few years ago she was in Ward 16 just before Christmas when some of the players and staff from Derry City Football Club came in with toys as part of an appeal that they had been running,” Sarah Jane explained.
“Alicia was only four at the time but her memory is amazing and she said to me recently that getting those toys made her so happy, and she wanted to make other children feel that happy as well. So she decided to set up her own appeal this year for Wards 6 and 16, and everyone has been so supportive.”
Alicia’s selflessness and thoughtfulness is something that has made her mum and her family very proud, as the six-year-old inspires everyone with her continued charity work.
“Alicia and I have been doing charity work for the last two years as part of Little Miss Shining Light. Both of us have been really inspired to help as many people as possible by two incredible ladies – Jennifer Brolly and Emma Taylor – who are the directors of Little Miss Shining Light, and who are both so generous and encouraging. Last year we helped raise money for mental health, and we managed to raise a collective total of £11,500, and now this year is focused on suicide prevention, with Foyle Search and Rescue as the chosen cause.
“I’m so proud of her because she really just wants to make everyone feel as happy as she did. I will say though, some of the toys that have been dropped off have definitely taken a lot of willpower for her to resist,” she laughed. “But it’s her way of giving back to Altnagelvin and not just to the patients and their families, but to the staff as well to try and make their job a bit easier. They are all truly incredible and it makes a huge difference.
“The run up to Christmas can be a nightmare as it is for parents trying to get everything organised, so if you add in the idea of sitting in hospital – it can be really tough. Alicia knows what it’s like to be sitting in there bored stiff, so hopefully this small gesture will make some other children’s days.”
Sarah Jane said that any donations would be gratefully received, and thanked everyone who has helped support the campaign to date.
“I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported Alicia and the donation campaign so far and I’d encourage anyone and everyone to get involved if they can, every single thing makes a difference – we’ve had jigsaws, toys, toiletry sets, everything really,” she said. “I’d also like to thank Clintons in Foyleside who dressed some teddy bears as Santa and donated each time one was sold – and already there are 30 gone.
“It’s been truly amazing to see how supportive people have been and hopefully that will continue in the coming weeks.”
After meeting Alicia, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Michaela Boyle said she was struck by her kindness.
“I feel truly inspired after meeting such a thoughtful and kind young girl as Alicia. Nobody likes to be sick over Christmas, but Alicia is making sure that other children will have just as special and as happy of a time,” said the Mayor. “At only six years of age, Alicia’s compassion for others is something that we can all learn from and I’m delighted to lend my support to her appeal.
“I’d also like to commend the staff of Altnagelvin who do incredible work all year around, but particularly at this time of year. I wish Alicia all the best with her appeal and I would encourage everyone to get involved.”
To take part in Alicia’s toy appeal, you can drop off your donation at Mark H Durkan’s office, Strand Road, Shantallow Community Centre or Glenview Community Centre. Alternatively, you can contact Sarah Jane on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sorchasinead.nishcolai. All donations for children from birth up to 16 years of age will be gratefully received.