Sun launches Christmas campaign to bring smile to faces of the nation's sick children – and we need your help

Sun launches Christmas campaign to bring smile to faces of the nation's sick children – and we need your help

December 5, 2021

TODAY, The Sun launches its annual Christmas appeal – and we are asking YOU, our army of generous readers, to help out.

Our Joy To The Ward campaign aims to bring a smile to the faces of the nation’s ill children.

By supporting the appeal — which is being backed by England football ace Tyrone Mings and TV presenter Emma Willis — you can help provide gifts for kids who are in hospital over the festive period, as well as specialist equipment, play-workers and other vital services all year round.

The money raised will go to NHS Charities Together, a national, independent charity supporting more than 230 NHS charities across the country.

Aston Villa defender Tyrone, 28, said: “It’s heartbreaking that some children have to spend Christmas in hospital.

"But with your help our incredible NHS staff will be able to deliver specialist support, equipment and that little bit of joy that some children need this Christmas.

"So please do give generously to The Sun’s Joy To The Ward.”

To kick off our appeal, we dropped in at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, bringing two donkeys to visit the nativity scene there.

With your help, NHS charities can help the health service go further than it can with government funding alone, to provide more memorable experiences like this one which make hospitals that little bit less scary.

Mum and dad Nisha and Milan Thakrar, whose son Ezra, two, is being treated for hearing issues, say the effect of such child-friendly experiences cannot be underestimated.

Nisha, from Birmingham, said: “The funding from charity makes such a difference. It’s things like the toy area, which has so much choice. and today it was such a help for staff to be able to use it to distract Ezra as he had his ears checked.

“Without them, it could have been really difficult, as it’s quite an invasive thing to happen.”

Another child delighted to see the donkeys was Archie Fox, seven, who has been in and out of hospital throughout his short life. A series of complex heart conditions meant he required operations and around-the-clock care in hospital for his first six months.

Archie said: “I like the hospital because sometimes I make friends and I get to see other friends again.”

Those children, and thousands more like them, will really appreciate your support.

For Archie, the toys, crafts and playworkers funded by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity — part of the NHS Charities Together network — have made his experience of hospital a more positive one.

Mum Emma Knight, 30, from Walsall, West Mids, said: “The play-workers make everything much less stressful for me, as well as Archie. He doesn’t get nervous about trips and time in the hospital.

“Instead, it’s like having a day out because the experience is so positive and happy. The more donations the charity gets, the more playworkers they can afford and they make such a difference.”

Big Brother and The Circle host Emma, 45, who grew up close to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “We all need a little cheer this Christmas. And my heart goes out to all the kids who will find themselves battling health issues.

“As a local girl, Birmingham Children’s Hospital holds an incredibly special place in my heart.

“I’ve seen first hand the amazing work they do, the lengths they go to to care for and support children and their families throughout the year, and the extra mile they go during the festive season to make Christmas as special as possible for the whole family. Those children, and thousands more like them, will really appreciate your support.”


One youngster who would really appreciate some extra stardust is Ellie Hands, 15, who has been in hospital for 15 weeks after developing an infection following an operation on her spinal cord.

Ellie, from Rugby, Warks, was born with a mild form of spina bifida and has missed the whole of Year 11 at school. She said: “As a teenager, being in hospital at this time of year is not very nice because I miss my friends and the exciting Christmas atmosphere.”

Her mum, Tracey, 49, a teaching assistant, and dad Stuart, 43, a mechanic, have not been allowed to visit Ellie together because of Covid restrictions, so Tracey is staying full-time at the hospital. She said: “We have had a few tears along the way but we are getting there now.” Ellie added: “The staff are good and make it as much fun as possible.”

Donations have enabled Birmingham Children’s Charity, the charity which works within the hospital, to buy items that improve patient experience, including new electric toys such as Nintendo Switches and Xboxes, as well as keep their craft supply well stocked.

This festive season, the children have been making their own nativity characters, which are displayed in a miniature stable outside the main entrance. It is nestled under a tree decked out in lights and stars coloured in by the children.

Each ward has been invited to make a character — and so far Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a sheep have been created. Hospital chaplain Ruth Radley, 45, helped the kids bring the project to life. She said: “If people weren’t so generous I don’t think anything like this would be able to happen.

“We bring the fun to the hospital — nurses and doctors don’t get to do that as they have a serious job.”

Hospital playworker Asma Murtaza agrees that her role is only possible thanks to generous donations. She said: “My aim is to make the kids smile and see them leave feeling happy. The more donations we have, the more of us there are to help keep the children entertained and feeling safe.”

Without donations we wouldn’t be able to do everything we can now.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity is one of more than 230 organisations helped by NHS Charities Together, which so far has provided more than £250,000 worth of funding to help improve facilities.

The money has also funded peer support workers at the hospital who provide help to young patients with mental health illnesses.

Sheeba Ali, fundraising PR manager, said: “We rely on support from other partners like NHS Charities Together to support all the work we do here. Without donations we wouldn’t be able to do everything we can now.”


The Sun’s Joy To The Ward appeal is raising money for NHS Charities Together, the national, independent charity supporting more than 230 NHS charities across the UK.

Your donations will help support children and families going through the toughest times imaginable, providing specialist equipment and services along with toys, play- workers, parents’ accommodation and much more.

DONATE ONLINE: Scan the QR code above with your phone camera to go straight through to our donation page or

DONATE BY TEXT: Text JOY to 70607 to donate £10 to NHS Charities Together. You’ll be charged £10, plus one message at your standard network rate. NHS Charities Together will receive 100% of your donation.

DONATE BY POST: Use the coupon on the left.

  • NHS Charities Together is the trading name of the Association of NHS Charities. Registered Charity No 1186569 (England & Wales) and SC050716 (Scotland). Company No 12325259


By Ellie Orton, Chief Executive, NHS Charities Together

THE NHS is facing its toughest winter ever. Staff are tackling large waiting lists and clinics are overwhelmed by a backlog of patients and the growing impact of winter pressures – all while still having to deal with Covid-19.

Throughout all of this, NHS Charities Together is here to help, supporting isolated patients, funding counselling for exhausted staff, providing training for emergency response volunteers and much more.

The 238 member charities we support are based in hospitals and ambulance, community and mental health services across the UK. Collectively, they give more than £1million to the NHS every day, so people can stay well for longer and get better faster.

This includes thousands of sick children and their families in hospital right now.

Together, we help the NHS go further by listening to what staff and patients need and filling gaps where extra help is needed.

Vital extras

This help can bring joy at the darkest times – from brilliant hospital playworkers to special presents and a visit from Santa, or simple creature comforts that make hospital feel less like hospital.

The services NHS charities fund can also be genuinely life-changing, and even life-saving, whether that is providing a home away from home for parents of sick children, specialist equipment that helps a baby keep their sight or essential youth mental health services supporting communities across the UK.

All of this is often only possible with public support. And with pressures on services continuing to grow, that support is more important now than ever.

You can help us provide the vital extras that make a difference.

And as the national, independent charity caring for the NHS, we’ll make sure donations get right to the heart of where they are needed most.

We are so grateful for your ongoing support – at Christmas and all year round.

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