Eight children from Year 5 have had a wonderful time participating in the Garden House Hospice Project in Letchworth.
The first week, they were each introduced to their patient, asked each other lots of questions and then made each other badges with some pictures to represent their hobbies or interests. They then had a tour of the hospice and met lots of the nurses, doctors and volunteers who spend their time there. They had a 'speed chatting' exercise with some of the medical professionals and volunteers where they could ask their interesting questions. The first session ended with cake, a drink and a beautiful story read by one of the patients about worries.
In the second session, the children had a fabulous educational session called 'The Germ Fairy Workshop' on hygiene and the immune system. The children were taught how to wash their hands as effectively as surgeons and checked their hands for bacteria before and after. Then, paired up with their patients they made some Coco-style death masks with lots of glitter and colour. Squash and cake was followed by a moving story called 'The Badger's Parting Gifts' – again read beautifully by one of the patients.
In the third and final session, the children brought their parents along to meet 'their' patients and the staff of the Hawthorn Centre. The session started with a very amusing game of Lucky Dip where the children pulled out medical equipment from a big box. They had to guess what the equipment was called and what it was used for. This proved to be hilarious with lot of face-pulling, laughing and some imaginative ideas for the equipment.
Our children then delighted the patients with a song from Mary Poppins (our summer show). They very cleverly chose 'A Spoonful of Sugar' which the patients loved and Mrs Driver joined in! Any performance from Year 5s is incomplete without jokes and most of the children had some medical-based jokes to share with the patients. Eleanor played the piano and then we had more squash and cake before we met HARRY THE HOSPICE BEAR. The children were all presented with a goody bag by one of the Trustees of the hospice before getting a hug from Harry. Ben was particularly impressed that Harry could floss!
As always, our session ended with a moving story. This time, the story was beautifully read by Biran who had volunteered for the task.
I have to say, I have never been more proud of the children of William Ransom School. They behaved beautifully as always but proved to be mature, compassionate and empathetic children who were confident throughout. They had intelligent questions, showed real interest in their surroundings and in their patients. They learned a huge amount about the immune system, hygiene, coping with long-term illness and loss and all of the amazing facilities available at the Hawthorn Centre for the patients. They learned how the hospice manages to keep running and the importance of volunteers and raising money for this fantasic centre.
I'm sure they will always remember the patients they got to know and treasure this experience. It was three Fridays filled with fun and laughter and we are very grateful to Susannah from the hospice and the patients, volunteers and staff for making us so welcome.