Hillside grotto’s £35,000 cancer charity boost

Fiona McCann and Nadine Campbell from Clic Sargent and Karen Palmer from Hillside Nursery announce the grand total raised for the charity from the Christmas Grotto. INNT 04-132-GR
Fiona McCann and Nadine Campbell from Clic Sargent and Karen Palmer from Hillside Nursery announce the grand total raised for the charity from the Christmas Grotto. INNT 04-132-GR
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A campaign fronted by Ballyclare’s Ross Patterson has raised £35,500 for accommodation for families of children receiving cancer treatment.

The boost to CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home appeal is thanks to Hillside Nursery, who donated the proceeds from their Santa’s Grotto to the charity.

The grotto, which ran from November 15-December 21, was opened by former leukaemia sufferer Ross Patterson, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia last February.

Over 130 volunteers helped with the fundraising effort at the garden centre.

Now in remission, Ross and his family have raised over £22,000 for CLIC Sargent and the Children’s Cancer Unit Fund as well as £900 for Carrick charity 1 in 3 Cancer Support.

The money raised at Hillside will fund specialist “Home from Home” houses close to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and Belfast City Hospital NI Cancer Centre, enabling families to stay close to children and young people undergoing cancer treatment.

The houses, which are free to use, help maintain a sense of a normal family life.

The first Home from Home at the Royal opened in December 2013, and a teenager and young adult Home from Home beside the City Hospital will open later this year.

Ross’ mum Claire commented: “The generosity of people is amazing.

“We had friends from Londonderry whose child was undergoing treatment and they stayed in one of the CLIC Sargent houses.

“It plays a vital role in supporting families of children with cancer.

“For the first four weeks Ross had to spend all his time in the hospital and we took it in turns to stay, as did other parents in similar situations.

“It’s comforting for children to know that their parents are close by and it takes the pressure off parents not to have to travel and pay for petrol.

“The homes are situated beside the hospitals and they are a vital part of the support network.

“They help families to spend time togehter.”

CLIC Sargent Northern Ireland Area Fundraising Manager Nadine Campbell said: “A huge well done to Ross Patterson and his family for doing something so amazing by helping us to launch the Grotto at Hillside which has raised £35,500 for children with cancer in Northern Ireland.

“CLIC Sargent can’t thank you enough for your support!”

CLIC Sargent Fundraising Manager Fiona McCann added: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to run the grotto at Hillside and the amount of money raised is an incredible boost to CLIC Sargent.

“I’d like to thank Hillside for supporting CLIC Sargent, all of our fantastic volunteers who gave up their time so close to Christmas to help us reach this total and everyone who came along to visit Santa.”

For more information about the Homes from Home appeal visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/northernirelandappeal