Hospital staff responded to an emergency with a difference by helping a young cancer patient find her lost toy lamb.
Eleven-year-old Alison Hayden put up a poster at Blackpool Victoria Hospital saying: “Help me find my lamb Minty. Reward: 25p and a hug, because that’s all I have.”
She’d had Minty since she was born and everywhere that Alison went the lamb was sure to go.
Staff sprang into action and an epic search for Minty was carried out. The lost lamb eventually turned up in a laundry, much to everyone’s relief.
One member of staff, Becci Addey, documented Minty’s journey around the hospital with words and pictures and had it made into a book for Alison to keep. Becci, a paediatric patient experience officer for the trust, and Alma Stewart-Gee and Ingrid Kent from the communications team, organised a tea party for Alison and presented her with gifts from well-wishers.
Alison, who is a pupil at Hawes Side Academy, was delighted to be given a Tracy Beaker doll from Nick Sharratt – the illustrator of the much loved children’s books by Jacqueline Wilson. Attached to the doll was a booklet filled with personal messages and illustrations by Nick.
Nicola Dobson of the Crazy Cake Company made a model of Minty to sit on top of Alison’s cake and Build A Bear of Blackpool gave Alison a voucher. Balloon Designs of Lytham created a personalised feather-filled balloon and Blackpool Zoo gave the family a day out. Blackpool Balloon Company also made a display of balloons with a welcome home message for Minty.
Alison’s dad Richard said: “The thing with Minty has been completely unbelievable. Alison put the poster on the wall and when people found out why she was in hospital it inspired them. The lamb means the world to her. It made a big difference to Alison to get Minty back. When they were reunited Alison just cried. It was devastating to lose Minty and we thought he might be gone forever.”
In June of 2015 Alison noticed a lump on her leg which was diagnosed as bone cancer. Sadly, in September Alison’s left leg had to be amputated.
Some of Alison’s treatment, including chemotherapy, has been carried out at Manchester Children’s Hospital. Alison is also participating in clinical trials within the Trust which will help patients in the future.
Proud dad Richard said: “Alison is my hero. She is very smart and astute. She has never let it get her down. Staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been great with her. Alison says going to Blackpool Victoria Hospital is like going on holiday after her chemotherapy. She is absolutely made up with her gifts.”
Alison said she enjoyed the party: “It was really good. It was a big surprise!”
Becci said: “There was a big search for Minty. He was missing for a few days so I sent Alison a postcard saying he was on his holidays. I took some photos of him around the hospital and took him back to Alison. When the book was ready I gave it to her and she loved it.”