A memory-making day for children who are bereaved or living with long-term illness put smiles on the faces of 80 youngsters and their families. Some of the children came from The Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital and the Demelza Hospice, and the idea of the event was to create a magical day of memories.
Children had their faces painted and were dressed up as animals so they could go on stage and sing some songs from Jungle Book with local youth actors.
There was a petting zoo in the morning including Tony the Pony from Big Brother fame and the show was held in the afternoon watched by parents and carers.
The day, organised by Brighton-based charity Forward Facing, was held at the Brighton Dome on Monday (April 9), and saw local companies donate equipment, food, or volunteer their time to help.
Forward Facing aims to give children and young people with life-threatening conditions, or who have experienced bereavement, the chance to forget their daily struggles and enjoy magical experiences to make lasting memories for themselves and their families.
Candice Konig from Forward Facing said: "It was an amazing day, all the children really enjoyed themselves. I want to thank the local companies and our volunteers for making this happen."
Julie Gore, a nurse at the Montefiore Hospital in Hove, said Forward Facing has helped her family feel normal again.
Julie’s 26-year-old daughter Tash has spent the past seven years undergoing 13 operations for a benign brain tumour which has brought on epilepsy, hearing loss and balance difficulties. Constant hospital visits have meant relaxed family time with her little daughter is rare.
And Julie’s youngest daughter, 24-year-old Jess, has MS. She has only just this month returned to work at The Montefiore Hospital as a health care assistant in the outpatients’ department following intensive treatment.
“The charity has helped to create fun days out for my daughter Tash and my granddaughter Aylah - something that has been so difficult to do over the past few years due to my daughter’s illness,” said Julie.
“Then, when my youngest daughter, Jess, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis two years ago, Forward Facing included her in their memory making events. We all went to a donkey sanctuary – organised and paid for by the charity – which was a wonderful experience for all three of us to enjoy together. And Tash and Aylah have been up the i360 thanks to the charity."
To find out more about Forward Facing, visit: www.forwardfacing.co.uk
First published in Brighton and Hove Independent on 12th April 2018.