A toddler receiving treatment for childhood cancer has helped hand out 50 goody boxes to staff at Leeds Children’s Hospital.
The Send a Hug boxes were put together by Leyburn-based social enterprise Group Hug App.
They were donated after project founder Jonathan Greenwood was inspired by the story of a local family living with childhood cancer.
Jonathan initially met Leyburn resident Tanya Woodcock during Group Hug App’s first community project aimed at boosting the spirits of isolating Dales residents during lockdown.
Tanya and Ian Clarkson’s daughter Emily was diagnosed with infant leukaemia aged just nine months in July 2018.
Since then, she has endured numerous operations and blood transfusions at the Leeds Children’s Hospital, based at Leeds General Infirmary.
Since April, Emily has been an inpatient at the hospital and has undergone various treatments, including chemotherapy, which has had dramatic side effects including anaphylactic shock and sepsis.
Emily is now preparing for a life-changing bone marrow transplant.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Tanya and Emily have had to isolate on the children’s cancer ward.
After being nominated to receive a mental health boost in the form of a Group Hug goody bag back in May, Tanya shared her story with Jonathan and explained that she wanted to give something back to the staff on Ward 31 at the hospital.
Having just launched a new fundraising campaign asking people to “Send a Hug” via a goody box or gift card to someone they wish to thank or acknowledge, Jonathan decided to donate 50 hero goody boxes worth more than £350 to the NHS team supporting Emily’s recovery.
He said: “The idea behind Send a Hug is to let a friend or relative know that you’re thinking of them, while donating to a great cause.
“You can also nominate an anonymous hero like an NHS worker, who you’d like to thank for their efforts.
“When I heard Emily’s story, I thought the hospital staff would be perfect recipients for the goody boxes and I decided to donate one to each member of the team.
“I hear Emily had good fun handing them out.”
The goody boxes were handed out by Emily and her mum to all 50 staff on Ward 31 earlier this week.
This included doctors, nurses and support staff, to thank them for their efforts over recent months.
Tanya said: “To be able to nominate just a few of the incredible team in Leeds is such an honour.
“Although it will never be enough to thank them for what they are doing to save our daughter’s life, it was fantastic to see the smiles on people’s faces when we handed them out.”
Ward nurse Danielle told us: “I felt so emotional when Emily gave me my hero goody box.
“It was lovely to be recognised for just doing my job. It’s such a thoughtful thing to do.”
For more details on sending a virtual hug in the form of a personalised goody box or gift card to someone you care about or would like to thank, visit grouphugapp.org/product-category/send-a-hug/
Alternatively, you can purchase Send a Hug products in a range of local shops in and around Leyburn, who have become Group Hug App fundraising partners.
All profits from the scheme will go towards a volunteer support programme for Group Hug’s free mental health support app launching March 2021.
For more about Emily’s story, follow the Team Emily page on Facebook.