On Sunday 20th December the Invicta Dynamos held a teddy toss in aid of Demelza Hospice for Children. You the fans responded with some 400 teddies and on Christmas Eve representatives of the club visited Demelza to pass on your support. Supporter Lee Allen went with them and describes his experience here.
The Invicta Dynamos put smiles on many faces at Demelza Hospice Care for Children on Christmas Eve. The hospice is a residential hospice in Keycol, Kent. It provides a wide range of services to children with terminal illnesses or conditions and offers a wide range of facilities that include a multi-sensory room, soft play, Jacuzzi, and The Inclusion Zone (TIZ) for young people.
The morning started with a tour of the site. During the tour the Invicta party, which included Head Coach Kevin Parrish, several players (Ondrej Zosiak, Harrison Lillis, Jack Lee, Bradley Gutridge and all three of the Wootton brothers – Bailey, Taylor and Haydn ) and a handful of fans had the opportunity to engage with the Care Team led by Children’s Palliative Care Nurses and Children’s Palliative Care Assistants, Family Support Workers and other Ancillary Support Staff. The tour started with a show of the main lounge area and afterwards the party walked over to the kitchen where we were told that the children get to eat their favourite meals.
The next room was the Music Room. In this room the children engage in music therapy sessions. Some children like to use this to express themselves rather than talking. The most heartwarming comment for me was when it was explained to us that the children also record songs to leave for their loved ones for when they passed away. It was at that moment when you start getting that lump in the back of your throat and you feel how lucky you are, and how sad and heartbreaking it must be for those that go through this.
The next stop took us to the garden area, a peaceful and beautiful setting. Even bedbound children have the opportunity to spend time in the garden with loved ones thanks to wide double access doors. A short walk then took us to the art room. This room allows the children to do art therapy which includes creating thank you cards for all the support that’s received.
The last room we went to was a big play area with soft surrounds, music (foot) pads and other fun activities. For the children with certain disabilities, a hoist is available to enable them to join in with the fun.
Kevin Parrish and his players then started to hand over the 400+ teddies that were donated by fans. The smile on the children’s faces was a thrilling experience, something I won’t forget. We take a lot for granted in life, small tokens such as a teddy bear for a present goes a long way to giving a child a joy.
It was impossible to hand over all 400 teddies to each child so the remaining teddies were carefully piled on a sofa, by supporters whilst the players continued to engage with the children. Following filming by the BBC, interviews by the Kent Messenger, Kent Sports News, KMTV and KMFM it was time for a few of the children to have a sing in front of all the parents, care team and the Invicta party. The little show they gave us was touching, we were not finished there however. After a reading there were two further festive songs to be sang….by all. After ‘Little Donkey’ we then had ‘Jingle Bells’ where Harrison Lillis in particular was in full vocal mode.
The overall experience was clear to see that the team at Demelza try to make the most of every moment that the child or young person spends at Demelza.
Leading the tributes, Kevin Parrish explained why the Dynamos were supporting Demelza:
“They do such a fantastic job here and it is truly humbling to be able to just offer support in whatever way we can. It’s thanks to the fantastic Dynamos fans that we are able to bring so many teddy bears down and put some smiles on the children’s faces. Having been down to Demelza three years ago with some of our former players, I was only too pleased that it was suggested we come back having done another teddy toss. We couldn’t have imagined that we would end up with over four hundred, but that just goes to show the generosity of our fans and what a great cause that Demelza is. Our visit is just one day of the year and we appreciate all the hard work that goes in from the fantastic staff at Demelza, day in, day out. If our visit can help raise some awareness of all the great work they do, then it’s all been worthwhile. I’d urge anyone to do what they can to support Demelza as we can all make a difference.”
The experience was summarised by Bailey Wootton was said “It was a joy seeing so many happy faces especially when we handed over the teddies. Being a non-profit organisation, it’s important that awareness and fund raising is supported and that’s something we can all help do”. Team mate Jack Lee was in full support by stating “Today will be a day I won’t forget. Anything that can be done to support this charity whether its small or big all helps. I would like to wish all of those involved a merry Christmas”
You too can support Demelza by visiting their website: https://demelza.org.uk/index.php?page=christmas-appeal-2015
Written by Lee Allen.