Footballers and Aladdin among visitors at Bedford Hospital

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Being in hospital over Christmas can be a depressing time for anyone, but for the children on Riverbank Ward, it can turn into a festive time to forget as they miss their visit from Santa at home.

However, every year, the staff on Riverbank Ward work tirelessly to provide opportunities for young patients to see some special people over the Christmas period; and this year has been no different.

This December has seen special visits from Luton Town Football Club, Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service as well as the cast of Aladdin visiting the ward to bring a smile to everyone’s faces.

Last week, the inpatients on the ward were treated to a wonderful pantomime, produced and performed by Starlight, the national charity dedicated to brightening the lives of sick and ill children nationwide.



The story of Aladdin was hosted in the centre of the ward, proving mighty popular amongst the inpatients, their families and even the staff; the familiar story of the magic lamp and three wishes providing a welcome break from the monotony of hospital life.

Football fans were in for a treat as multiple members of Luton Town visited the ward, adorned with gifts and merchandise for the children and even a couple of parents who were fans of the club.

However, one patient – a regular visitor to the ward – was delighted to see the players from his team, visibly brightening his day and getting a photo with the whole squad which he said was the “highlight of the year”.

The visits did not stop there, as members of Bedfordshire Police visited on the Monday before Christmas with even more presents for the children, with one child quizzing the Detective Inspector about what life is like in the police force, gaining inspiration for a future career choice.

The visits were supervised by the members of the Play Team on the ward.

Brenda Robinson is a Play Specialist on the team and she said, “We are always delighted to welcome members of our emergency services and the community to our ward. Just their presence alone can help make a child or young person’s day and improve their well-being during a time that can be very stressful for the whole family”.

And with the special day coming up, the visits did not stop with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service dropping by on Christmas Eve, plus a surprise visit from Willis the Therapy dog.

Willis the dog paid a visit too.

Santa Claus himself visited the children on Christmas Day, giving the children of the ward a welcome distraction in true, generous yuletide fashion.