I think I’ve heard more of the stuff at the children’s hospice than I have anywhere else. And seen more smiles. You can’t forget the wonderful smiles.
So when I was asked to go there to read some of my books to children, I knew I had a special job to do – keep the laughter and smiles quota high.
Away from my job at the Sunday Post, I’m a children’s author, you see.
I’m no stranger to reading in front of children in schools, libraries and at book festivals. I’ve been doing it for 10 years, so I don’t get nervous these days.
But I have to admit to feeling a little twinge of anxiety as I walked through the front door of Robin House.
Would it be different reading in a children’s hospice? Would the atmosphere be, I don’t know . . . heavier? Would the children have a weight upon their shoulders that would be apparent?
At first we went into the library – which made sense. It’s packed with books and comfy chairs. It’s light and bright and has a calm, comforting air.
It’s also used for those difficult and sensitive conversations staff have with parents – at least until the fantastic new Garden Room is built using funds from this appeal.
But it was a little too light and bright that morning, with the glaring winter sun (yes, we did have some of the stuff) dazzling half the bairns before we’d even reached “Once upon a time”.
So we decanted to the activities area, one of the other rooms that’s due for a complete upgrade thanks to your generosity.
I was shown to a big green “throne” and the wee ones gathered round.
We kicked off with The Loon On The Moon, with added top-of-the-voice “BOOMS” from the kids at the appropriate times.
Then it was on to The Fabulous Flapdoodles before finishing up with Jumblebum, about a monster who eats smelly socks.
I needn’t have worried about the laughter. The room echoed to the sound of chuckles and giggles, and the grins on the little faces in front of me made my heart swell.
There’s something incredibly powerful in the combination of the joy of stories and the special nature of Robin House, and that’s why we’re launching Read For Robin to bring together the two things to raise even more funds for the essential work at the hospice.
We need as many schools, libraries, clubs – in fact anywhere and everywhere – to show they have the write stuff to make mountains of cash for Robin House.
You can have sponsored reads, book sales, reading challenges, book-based dressing-up days, book club coffee mornings – whatever you can come up with. Use your imagination!
Those fabulous folk at CHAS will give you all the help you need, with everything from sponsorship packs and promotional posters to letters for parents (if you’re a school) and press release and social media templates.
All you need are great ideas, a love of reading and the desire to raise cash for a wonderful cause.
Alison Ringrose, activities facilitator at Robin House, reckons reading is a great way to make money for the appeal, as it’s such a beloved pastime at the hospice.
She said: “Books and stories are a big part of life at Robin House, as sometimes our parents feel helpless and it gives them 10-15 minutes to just spend some quiet time bonding with their child.
“It gives them space to not be doing medical procedures and medications and that kind of thing. They’re not being a caregiver or a nurse, they’re just getting to be a parent.
“There’s nothing better than being all snuggled up and having a story.”
She added: “Some of our children might not have a reaction normally, but when you read a story their wee eyes light up, or maybe they’re tense and when you start reading they chill out and relax. It has a real effect and we’ve seen it.
“It’s really important that parents and siblings of children in Robin House have positive memories of things like this.
“It allows them to just be in the moment with the child.”
Inspiring words indeed. So what are you waiting for? Grab a book and get reading and raising!
To find out more about Read For Robin and to get hold of sponsorship packs, go to the CHAS website at www.chas.org.uk, call 0141 779 6180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How to donate
ROBIN HOUSE is 10 years old – and CHAS is about to embark on a major programme to bring the hospice bang up to date.
We want to raise as much as possible – with your help.
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to give, so there are several ways to donate. And please use Gift Aid if you can.
TEXT: Text CHAS10, leave a space then enter the amount you want to give (eg CHAS10 £10) to 70070. It is important you include a £ sign
CHEQUE: Send cheques payable to Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) to: Oor Hoose, CHAS 10, 2nd Floor, Buchanan Tower, Cumbernauld Road, Stepps, G33 6HZ.