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Mums donate toys and gifts to Ipswich Hospital this Christmas after record fundraising event

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 December 2016

Friends Gemma Read and Zoe Barker have raised £2,250 and spent it on presents for the children's ward. Pictured from the hospital are play specialists Karen Jane (far left) and Keren Brooke (far right)

Friends Gemma Read and Zoe Barker have raised £2,250 and spent it on presents for the children's ward. Pictured from the hospital are play specialists Karen Jane (far left) and Keren Brooke (far right)

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Two Woodbridge mums whose children experienced first-hand the dedicated care by staff at Ipswich Hospital's children's ward have donated more than £2,000 worth of toys and gifts this Christmas.

Friends Zoe Barker and Gemma Read have raised £2,250 and spent it on presents for the children's ward at Ipswich HospitalFriends Zoe Barker and Gemma Read have raised £2,250 and spent it on presents for the children's ward at Ipswich Hospital

Friends Zoe Barker, 27 and Gemma Read, 31, have been holding fundraiser events each year to raise money for the ward, which they spend on toys and gifts for young patients.

And after their most successful year yet raising £2,226.50, the pair yesterday delivered scores of gifts to the ward’s overjoyed staff.

Mum-of-two Miss Read said: “It’s always really emotional but always really nice too.

“It makes a huge difference as a distraction for the children, but it is also bringing a bit of fun for what is a miserable time in life if a child is in hospital.”

Rupert Pheasant with a cheque for St Elizabeth Hospice following the Moat Barn fundraiserRupert Pheasant with a cheque for St Elizabeth Hospice following the Moat Barn fundraiser

The hospital uses the gifts to help youngsters who are scared of operations, distract them from procedures such as injections, and keeping visiting siblings entertained, as well as for birthdays and youngsters in A&E over Christmas.

Crucially, the pair make sure they buy gifts for both boys and girls, and ages all the way from birth up to teenagers, as well as essentials such as printer ink.

The Woodbridge friends began raising money five years ago after their own children were treated on the hospital’s wards and recognising the special care staff gave.

Mrs Barker’s daughters Isobel, seven, and Lola, five, suffer from congenital myotonic dystrophy – a form of muscle wasting disease which affects the muscles and organs and makes the children prone to viral infections.

Miss Read’s daughter Nevaeh was treated for pneumonia at a young age.

Mrs Barker said: “It’s lovely to give back, and we feel really happy that we can do that for other people.

“The staff that work there are amazing and so grateful for what we do.”

This year’s fundraiser event began as an idea for a coffee morning, but turned into a Christmas fair at Miss Read’s workplace, Moat Barn Nursery on November 26, featuring gift stalls, face painting, raffle, tombola and Santa’s Grotto.

And with the event raising £2,226.50, £700 of the proceeds went to St Elizabeth Hospice in recognition of the treatment Moat Barns 
owner Rupert Pheasant’s mum is receiving for terminal cancer with the cause.

Miss Read said: “What we do is nothing – the people who work at the hospital are amazing with what they see in their job.

“It’s sad to have to do it but great we are able to help out.”

Children’s services ward sister Ellen Sarrance said: “I am humbled by how generous people are with their gifts to us – it really is amazing and we are so grateful.”

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