Christmas toys for sick children stolen from St Mary’s Hospital
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of pounds’ worth of Christmas presents donated to critically ill children have been stolen from St Mary’s Hospital.
The 150 gifts – including a Santa suit – were given to the unwell children by members of the public so they could have something to open while spending the festive period in the Paddington hospital.
Det Sgt Tom Hirst, from Westminster CID, said: “This is an awful crime at this time of year and hard to imagine what kind of person would steal gifts so clearly destined for sick children to make their lives a little brighter this festive season.”
The theft was reported on Tuesday, but police believe the break-in occurred some time between October 3 and November 17.
Lights, gifts and even decorations worth about £3,000 were being kept in an unused storeroom at the Praed Street hospital when they were taken.
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Now children’s charity COSMIC (Children of St Mary’s Intensive Care), which organised the toy donations, is attempting to salvage Christmas at the hospital through crowdfunding.
Its appeal for £3,000 has already attracted more than £700 in pledges.
Tina Halton, lead play specialist St Mary’s, said: “I was so sad when I heard that we may not have Santa this year. Everything we use at Christmas time is given to us and donated out of kindness for the children who so deserve to have a little fun at this time of year.
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“Santa has always worn the same suit at our children’s party and for a jolly visit to the wards on Christmas day. It never fails to bring a smile to a poorly child’s face when they get a chance to meet the real Mr Clause and get a specially selected gift.
She added: “We have been truly heartened by all the people who have already expressed their support and want to help make sure the kids have a Christmas we can remember for all of the right reasons.”
A spokeswoman for COSMIC said the children it helps are usually in a critical condition and suffering from meningitis, sepsis or severe trauma from an accident.
“Families arrive in shock and scared for their child’s life,” she added. “Families arrive in the middle of the night often with nothing but the clothes on their back, scared that their child may not make it through the night. COSMIC does as much as possible to help these children and families through this incredibly traumatic time.”
Police have asked any witnesses or people with information to come forward as soon as possible.
Vicky Rees, head of fundraising at COSMIC, said being able to bring “Christmas cheer” to the children is the highlight of the year.
“Our children and families have been through so much,” she said.
“Having our ability to make that magic happen taken away is devastating. We will do our best to replenish everything.”
If you know anything about the incident, call police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting crimestoppers-uk.org