Mickey, Minnie, Baby and Jade might not be the original line-up but, as a group, they brought much joy and laughter to the Galaxy ward at Barnet Hospital this week. The arrival of numerous large white bags emblazoned with the words ‘Camp Simcha’ was enough to initially arouse the interest of several small patients on the childrens’ ward.
But it was the appearance of two well-known mice and a Spice Girl that really put the spark into the annual gift-giving session, particularly as Heart radio host Emma Bunton (aka Baby Spice) had brought along her musician husband Jade Jones. Together, they charmed every toddler and nurse.
Mickey and Minnie also did their bit as old feet (mice don’t have hands) on Camp Simcha’s Toy Drive, which this year collected a record number of gifts, which will go to 110 children’s wards in hospitals and hospices across London.
With some 9,000 toys collected by 70 plus nurseries, schools, cheders, synagogues, community and youth groups, many volunteers were required for sorting, but Camp Simcha found them.
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On Sunday, more than 100 people turned up at Yavneh College Sports Hall to help, and children who would normally tear open packaged toys and games were carefully placing them in boxes marked ‘For babies’ or ‘For teens’.
Sadly, Galaxy ward had both. In one room, Shreena Patel was holding her seven- month-old son, Diyan. He was admitted five weeks ago but, in his short life, hospital has been home because he has a hole in his heart.
Bunton, who is also a UNICEF ambassador couldn’t wait to hold him, particularly as he was hours away from being transferred to Great Ormond Street for major surgery.
Two-year-old Isabela Dudici smiled the moment she saw Minnie and Mickey, and even more so when Bunton handed her a present.
Camp Simcha UK is the only Jewish charity to deliver toys to children of all denominations in hospitals on this scale, and gifts will be enjoyed by young patients at the Royal Free, UCLH, Great Ormond Street and Royal Marsden, along with many others throughout the festive season.
With the help of GIFT, a few hundred toys will also go to families who would otherwise be unable to give their children gifts this Chanukah.
“I was expecting two other Spice girls to step out of those mouse costumes,” said a cheeky young doctor who was as keen to have his photo taken with Bunton as the nurses.
Mickey, Minnie, Baby and Jade might not be the original line-up, but for the children on Galaxy they hit all the right notes. Perhaps Camp Simcha will sign them up.