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Mother who stayed in hospital with her newborn son over Christmas says day was ‘brightened’ by donated gifts

Alison and Chris Clarke with their son Luke. Photo: Alison Clarke

Alison and Chris Clarke with their son Luke. Photo: Alison Clarke

Alison Clarke

No-one wants to spend Christmas Day in hospital.

Send a Smile for Santa at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Paula Mellor, Bea Smith and Emma McKay. Picture: ANTONY KELLYSend a Smile for Santa at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Paula Mellor, Bea Smith and Emma McKay. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

But for one mother and her newborn son their stay at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) was brightened last year by receiving a generously donated gift from a member of the public.

Alison Clarke and her then newborn son Luke got the presents as part of NNUH’s Send a Smile with Santa campaign - which aims to ensure everyone who spends Christmas in hospital has something to unwrap on the big day.

In partnership with this newspaper, the hospital is aiming to collect more than 1,000 presents for patients spending Christmas in hospital and about half the gifts needed have been donated.

Mrs Clarke, who lives in Beetley near Dereham, with husband Chris and little Luke, said: “I gave birth to my little boy on December 20 and he was taken to intensive care, so we stayed in hospital with him. We were released at 4pm on Christmas Day.

“He was brought to me on the ward on Christmas Eve, so I had a little room mate for the night. But that Christmas Day morning - and even on Christmas Eve the nurses were playing Christmas music, they were all dressed up. On Christmas Day they came round and brought presents for myself and Luke. So it was a really nice atmosphere, the staff make it lovely - because they have to work, it’s their Christmas too.”

She said although hospital would not have been her first choice for Christmas Day, getting a present filled her with festive spirit.

“It’s humbling to think people have taken the time to go and buy a gift, and take it to the hospital for it to be wrapped and given out on Christmas Day. We actually had another appointment a few months later and me and my mum took some presents in for this year.

“I don’t think unless you’ve been in hospital at Christmas that you even think about it, it’s so lovely and it made it so nice.”

Now back at home, the couple are preparing for Luke’s first “home Christmas” - but not before celebrating his birthday first.

Mrs Clarke, 34, said: “People should definitely take donations in, it really brightens up Christmas Day.”

Gifts can be donated at a variety of drop-off points across the county, including our offices in Rouen Road, various Lloyds branches across the county and Norwich railway station.

People are urged to make sure presents are dropped off by Wednesday to allow time for distribution and wrapping - and gifts for adults are particularly needed.

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