Children in the Bon Secours Children’s Ward in Cork received an extra special surprise last week, with their very own "Covid proof" Christmas tree.
Normally, children on the ward look forward to seeing the decorated Christmas tree each year. However, this year, a traditional tree was not possible.
“Normally on the children’s ward, we would have an artificial tree which would be decorated and then if there are any children in the hospital overnight on Christmas Eve, Santa will leave his presents under that particular tree,” said Dr Niamh Lynch.
“This year, we were told that because we need to be able to wipe everything down and keep it all clean and hygienic, we weren’t going to be able to have that kind of Christmas tree.”
The inspiration and motivation to ensure that the ward would have a tree this year, came from one of Dr Lynch's patients, Abby O' Regan, who passed away in January 2019.
“It was the memory of Abby that kind of drove me to do it in the first place because she was such a fan of Christmas lights and things like that and that is what sort of drove me to campaign for a tree.”
According to Dr Niamh Lynch, many children in hospital at Christmas also fear that Santa will not be able to find them and so, a new tree was needed to assure them that he would know exactly where to put their presents.
“I do reassure them that I am able to email Santa and let him know who is in hospital with us, just in case they are worried but … if they saw no tree, it would be an even bigger concern for them that there would be nowhere to leave the presents,” she said.
With that, Dr Lynch set off on a mission to find an alternative, “COVID-proof” Christmas tree and after putting the word out on national radio, the team at GMIT Letterfrack created the perfect solution- a wooden Christmas tree.
The tree was delivered to the ward on Friday and despite being made of wood, it has still been decked-out in decorations.
In honour of Abby O’ Regan, the team at GMIT Letterfrack have also created a wooden butterfly to ensure that her name has a special place on the Christmas tree.
“She brought smiles to lots of people’s faces and she is continuing to do so now with her tree,” said Dr Lynch.
"The whole hospital feels special that someone in another county would do something so nice for us. It’s very touching. It’s real Christmas spirit," she added,