Thousands of people have rallied round to create Hayward-by-the Sea at City Hospital – with donkey rides, hook-a-duck, ice-creams, and fish and chips - after a chance remark by a terminally ill patient.
The patient at Hayward House palliative care unit told staff that they would love to take their children to the seaside again. The team – who have arranged weddings, surprise birthday parties and more for their patients – immediately leapt into action: if the patient couldn’t go to the seaside, they would bring the seaside to them.
A Facebook post asking people for donations to make this possible was shared more than 2,000 times within hours.
And within minutes of mentioning donkeys live on air on BBC Radio Nottingham’s breakfast show on Wednesday, Brackenhurst College was in touch, offering the loan of Joseph and Genevieve. And then Moo Haven, of West Bridgford, also offered a loan of two donkeys, Alice and Beau.
The Hayward House team have been overwhelmed with the response from the community. In just two days, they’ve been offered all sorts of seaside-related things to transform the palliative care unit’s tranquil garden into Hayward-by-the-Sea.
“People have been amazing,” said Deborah Walker, Deputy Ward Sister. “They’ve really rallied round.”
Mellors Group, which owns Skegness Pier and Fantasy Island in Ingoldmells, has supplied a hook-a-duck with prizes, paddling pool, deckchairs – even the customary sticks of rock - and is currently building a sandpit.
“It started as a small thing and the next thing you know, I’ve got a man in a lorry with two-ton of sand!” said Deborah.
“We’re really grateful to everyone who has helped – too many to name them all – and to our staff coming in on their day off to make this a special day for our patients and their families.”
Moo Haven owner Linda Hughes said: “BBC Radio Nottingham called to ask if I could help and I was happy to say yes. We work with vulnerable people and love to get involved with anything to do with the community and people who need us. I nursed my dad when he had cancer and know what a cruel disease it is.”
As well as numerous individuals who have contributed, other donations/loans have come from: Robbie’s Bouncy Castles, Bestwood Fisheries, Reno’s, Mellors Group, Brackenhurst College, Moo Haven, and the Rotary Club, who maintain the garden for free all year round.
James Mellors, Director of Operations at Mellors Group, said: “We’re always looking at ways to help contribute to the community and when we heard about the appeal we immediately knew it was something we had to be involved in. Our business is all about providing people with memorable experiences and we really do hope the patients have a great day.”
Deborah insisted the Hayward House staff didn’t want or expect praise.
“It’s just what we do,” she said. “We don’t want thanks for it. We get to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable - it really is a privilege to share such precious moments with our patients and their families.”
• Hayward-by-the-Sea is just for patients and families; it’s not a public event.