Children’s hospital patients open magical House of Fraser grotto

Patients from Birmingham Children’s Hospital were amongst the first to enter House of Fraser’s magical Christmas grotto yesterday, when it opened its doors for the festive season.

The youngsters, which included 3-year-old Alfred Hickman from Wolverhampton, were invited to officially open the grotto in celebration that £1 from every ticket purchased will go towards Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Moments of Magic Christmas campaign.

Known to his friends and family as ‘Alfred the Pirate’, Alfred is a regular visitor to the children’s hospital where he is being treated for developmental Glaucoma – a rare eye condition that occurs in babies and young children. The condition, which can be inherited, is caused by the incorrect development of the eye’s drainage system before birth.

His mum, Catherine said: “We are always in and out of the children’s hospital for outpatient appointments at the Eye Department. We can often be there for several hours at a time as we see many different nurses and consultants in one day. That means trying to keep an 3-year-old busy for a long period of time, which as you can imagine, is difficult.

“Thanks to the charity, there are various activities to keep patients like Alfred occupied. Whether that’s distraction packs filled with toys, games and puzzles; sensory toys to play with while waiting for an appointment; or even a visit from a children’s entertainer. Things like this make such a huge difference to Alfred’s hospital experience.”

Open until 3pm on Christmas Eve, House of Fraser’s much-loved winter wonderland is located on the fifth floor of the department store, and every child that enters the grotto will have the opportunity to meet Santa and his elves and take home a present.

Liam Harford, Store Manager at House of Fraser, said: “We are delighted to bring back our magical grotto this year for its eighth annual year, especially after the brilliant news that our iconic store is staying open.  The grotto at House of Fraser brings back so many memories for people in the city, including the wonderful days of Rackhams, and year after year we get such great feedback from parents and children. Christmas is all about spreading goodwill and we are very proud to be supporting Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity during this festive period.”

Serena Daw, Public Fundraising Manger at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are incredibly grateful to House of Fraser for once-again choosing to support us in this magical way and donating £1 from every ticket purchased to our Moments of Magic Christmas campaign.

“Moments of magic happy every single day at our hospital – be it a ground-breaking piece of medical research, the sound of our patients giggling or the sight of them playing with their families – but we’re on a mission to make sure that we can create even more for each and every one of our sick kids and their families.”

Assia Sohaib, Deputy BID Manager at Retail Birmingham, the business improvement district for city centre retail businesses, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting House of Fraser’s Christmas grotto once again and this year a percentage of ticket sales will go to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

“The children’s hospital does such amazing work in the city, helping kids and their families and touching the lives of so many. It’s great that we can give something back to such a worthwhile charity and support many more families in the process.”

As well as meeting Santa, the £7 entry fee includes a quality gift for each child. Entry for adults costs just £1. There is also a chance to purchase professional photographs, photo books, frames, and baubles to capture the memories and as well as sharing their Christmas wishes, children are also encouraged to bring a letter to post in Santa’s post room.

The House of Fraser grotto will be open from 11am – 5pm all week until Christmas Eve when it will open from 10am-3pm. There will be extended hours on some days, details of which can be found at https://tickets.globalstar.systems/193 along with details to book tickets.  For more information on Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity visit www.bch.org.uk.