Stephen Lloyd: Christmas spirit abounds in Eastbourne

Stephen Lloyd with gifts collected for elderly patients at the DGH
Stephen Lloyd with gifts collected for elderly patients at the DGH

With only a few days to go to Christmas I have had the privilege of seeing, at first hand, a terrific example of the Christmas spirit with the generosity our town shows toward those less fortunate to themselves.

As you’ll remember I put up on my Herald column (and my Facebook) that the hospital had told me there would be around 100 elderly and sick patients in the DGH on Christmas Day, and who would most likely receive no visitors or gifts at all. I just thought this was so sad.

These are our neighbours; they could have been our own parents or grandparents but circumstances mean they no longer have anyone to pop in and say hello or give them a present on Christmas Day. 
That most special of days.

So I went to the town and asked for help.

Would you, reader of the Herald and beyond, help me at least ensure that all these 100 folk got a present on Christmas Day?

And you stepped up in the way that I just knew you would.

The generosity of so many people and businesses from across Eastbourne & Willingdon has been absolutely astonishing, with over 200 gifts delivered to my office and a further 100+ boxes of chocolates and biscuits. 
So much so that I’ve now been in touch with the Community section of our NHS Trust and they’ve come back to say they also knew of many other elderly people in town seen by the District Nurses who weren’t expecting to receive a present. Well now they will as well thanks to you.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank a few key folk in our hospital and community who without their help, i couldn’t have made this happen.

Firstly the DGH Chief Executive, Dr Adrian Bull, who when I contacted him about the idea agreed with alacrity.

Thanks Adrian. And his Deputy Director of Nursing, Hazel Tonge and her PA Jane Hewitson who helped sort the logistics; couldn’t have done it without you folks. And then on the Community side, District Nurse Danielle Curtis who has ensured their lonely old folk are also not going to miss out. Thank you all for being so supportive.

I’d also like to thank those in my team who wrapped all the presents; there’s a few paper cuts there folks but I think they are (just) about still talking to me!

Finally to you: I flagged the issue only a few days ago and asked for your help, and you responded in the way that our town always does when it sees others struggling, by stepping up.

Be it people coming and giving me their gifts in ASDA or at the Langney Shopping Centre during my surgeries last weekend, or children dropping off their presents with their parents at my office, or businesses coming in with piles of boxes of chocolates and, even, ten beautiful silk scarves.

All of you who donated have been so kind and generous I’m touched to the core.

I feel sure that 200 elderly and frail people, fellow Eastbourne & Willingdon citizens, will have an unexpected smile of surprise on Christmas Day, and it’s all down to you. For which, many thanks.

That’s it my friends.

See you at the Bandstand on 25th December and I wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.