Local man Frank Charles made his 16th annual Christmas toy delivery to children on the Acorn ward at Whipps Cross Hospital on Monday 23rd December.
Chartered Accountancy firm Haslers were among those who donated gifts to this year’s appeal, and members of the firm joined Frank to tour the ward giving gifts to children, as well as offering children the opportunity to hold the Olympic torch with which Frank ran in Redbridge in 2012.
Having established the Frank Charles Give A Gift Appeal in 2004, Frank is dedicated to brightening the hospital experience for children.
Frank was inspired by his first son Ashley, who passed away at 23-months from a rare bowel disorder, Hirschsprung’s Disease. He also knows what it's like to be a child in hospital over Christmas, having spent much of his early life in hospital because of the same disease.
In honour of his son, Frank continues to visit the hospital each year despite being diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and cancer of the bone marrow in 2010. Turning the visits into a year-round project was one of the final items on his bucket list, which became a reality as the Frank Charles Give A Gift Appeal became a registered charity in 2015.
Frank said: "I come to Whipps Cross each year in memory of my first son, Ashley. I want to give something back to the hospital who looked after him, as well as bring gifts to the children and parents to make an uncertain time easier."
Ghislaine Stephenson, Associate Director of Nursing at Acorn Ward, Whipps Cross Hospital said: "It was wonderful to welcome Frank back again this Christmas; he's a true friend of Whipps Cross and a bit of a celebrity these days!
"The smiles on the faces of our children and young people when they received their presents shows just how much Give A Gift means to them. It's a fantastic, local charity and all of us here are grateful to Frank and his many donors for helping to make Christmas magical."
Jon O’Shea, Chairman of Haslers, said: “It was a real honour to be joining Frank again as he makes his annual trip to the hospital. Every year we visit we are greeted by smiles and thanks from the nurses, doctors and patients who are so appreciative of the donations.
“Everyone at Haslers gets excited about the appeal every year and we are always blown away by the amount raised for the appeal. I hope we continue to enjoy this fantastic relationship with Frank well into the future.”