Southampton Children’s Hospital thanks New Forest leisure centre operator Freedom Leisure and its customers for donating hundreds of presents for patients
A PRESENT appeal by the operator of the New Forest’s leisure centres is set to become an annual event after customers donated hundreds of gifts for unwell children.
Freedom Leisure, which runs the district council-owned centres at Applemore, Lymington, New Milton, Ringwood and Totton, approached Southampton Children’s Hospital to ask how they could help brighten Christmas for patients.
The leisure centres became designated drop-off points for The Christmas Present Appeal and within a short amount of time were brimming with gifts, toys and games donated by customers and staff.
Freedom Leisure’s healthy communities manager Lillie Matthews said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the New Forest community with all the donations.
“Our collection boxes were overflowing with lovely gifts so quickly we had to provide more space to accommodate them all.”
Leisure centre colleagues including area manager Peter Cheeseman visited the hospital on 15th December to handover the gifts.
A Southampton Children’s Hospital spokesperson said: “This generosity from the leisure centre customers is incredible, especially when times are so tough for people.
“It will truly mean the world, not only to the children, but also to their parents and siblings.”
The spokesperson added: “Being in hospital at any time of year can be difficult for anyone, but imagine how much more difficult that could be if you are a child and it’s Christmas.
“By working with the amazing teams at Freedom Leisure we are helping to create a positive experience for all the young people who find themselves in that situation.
“Thank you rarely seems enough, but thank you to all at Freedom Leisure for creating this initiative this year.”
Due to its success, Freedom Leisure say they will now hold the appeal annually.