Alex brings smiles to Children at Omagh Hospital


Alex brings smiles to Children at Omagh HospitalSeven year old Alex Hamilton, a pupil at Omagh County Primary School is helping to bring smiles to children who receive treatment in the Children’s Centre at Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex by raising money to provide gifts for a surprise box.
Last year, Alex was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a chronic life-long condition which causes inflammation of the digestive system and has been keen to give something back to show his appreciation for the exceptional care and continued support he receives from the gastroenterology team at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and to the Children’s Centre at Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex.
Alex was the very first child to have his bloods taken at the new Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, by Staff Nurse Maggie McGurk and has attended Maggie regularly since. When Alex has his blood taken he is offered a sticker and at times a bravery certificate.  On one occasion however after getting bloods taken at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Alex had found it particularly uncomfortable and was offered a treat from a surprise box instead of a sticker.  Alex chose a pack of playing cards and was delighted to get something different.  Having to make a choice as to which small item he would like from the box distracted him from the pain.  Alex left the hospital excited to play with the pack of cards on the journey home.  It was during this journey Alex suggested how nice it would be to introduce a surprise box at Children’s Centre, Omagh.
Alex and his mum Valerie discussed this idea with Mrs Funston, principal of Omagh County Primary School who supported the idea by holding a non-school uniform day to fundraise and purchase items for a surprise box.  Alex also raised money by selling tattoos and Christmas crafts at the school’s Christmas Craft Fair and at that time Ian Danton the manager of Tesco learned about Alex’s idea and agreed that Tesco in Enniskillen would support.  Martina Reynolds, the Community Champion, took the lead on this and during the month of January organised a second hand book table. The money raised was used to purchase items for “Alex’s Surprise Box” and collectively a total of £925 has been raised to date.
Mary Blee, Community Children’s Nursing Team Leader for the Western Trust said: “We are overwhelmed and humbled by the thoughtfulness and creativity of Alex and his mum who have worked extremely hard in not only coming up with the idea of creating a surprise box but also fundraising to provide gifts for its inclusion.   Alex is a remarkable young boy and is an inspiration to everyone in the Children’s Centre and we wish to thank him and his mum for thinking of others even though he is battling a chronic illness himself.  The surprise box will benefit many children who regularly attend for appointment at the Children’s Centre, bringing lots of smiles and surprises to distract from the tests and procedures that are required.”
Alex’s mum Valerie Hamilton commented: “Alex is an inspiration, he has listened and followed strictly the advice given by all health care professionals he has come into contact with and has just got on with living life to the full.  Alex is very considerate and is always wanting to help others.  Alex feels very proud that his family, his school and Tesco have got behind his idea and supported him to accomplish this. Alex now plans to gather additional items to present to the gastroenterology team at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and would like to raise funds to support the work that Crohn’s and Colitis NI carry out locally.”