Thanks to a very special birthday girl, Lilah, families who are supported by children’s hospice charity Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, were treated to a fin-tastic sensory seaside at a beach-themed activity day held at their Guildford based hospice, Christopher’s.

The extent of the activity day was all possible because of donations from Lilah, who wanted to make children happy on her birthday, so she set up a birthday fundraiser and asked people to donate to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices in lieu of birthday gifts.

Shooting Star Children’s Hospices is a local children’s hospice charity who care for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families across Surrey and London. They have two hospices, Christopher’s in Guildford and Shooting Star House in Hampton.

Supported children and their siblings enjoy the Beach Activity Day at Christopher’s

Lilah’s mum Lisa said:

“Every night, my daughter Lilah and I lie in bed before lights out and talk about her day. A month or so before Lilah’s birthday we were having such a conversation when she asked, ‘Mum, how can I make other children happy on my birthday as we used to in South Africa?’

The family, who now live in Cobham, have only recently moved to the UK from South Africa, where Lilah and her family used to donate regularly to the local orphanage.

Supported children and their siblings enjoy the Beach Activity Day at Christopher’s

“This was normal for Lilah and by nature, she has always been a very kind and giving child – always putting others needs ahead of hers and taking greatest joy when she brought joy to others,” said Lisa.

Lilah and Lisa saw about birthday fundraisers on Facebook, and after a discussion with Lilah to explain about what children’s hospice do and who they care for, Lilah decided to use her birthday money to kick-start the fundraising to cover the costs of a party entertainer for the upcoming activity day.

“We needed to raise £200 for the bubble entertainers, but wanted to set a £400 goal and by the end of the day, we were very close to that! We spoke to the care team at Christopher’s and it was arranged that Lilah could also come along to help set up the day – giving her a chance to see where the money was going and what a difference it was going to make,” said Lisa.

Lilah’s fundraising was so successful, raising over £600, that the team at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices were able to create even more special memories on the day for the children. There were even some donations left over to go towards an equally amazing day for the children later in the year.

Lilah designs her own Friendly, special fingerprint characters, part of the charity’s brand – Beach Activity Day

The day was full of activities for families and had a particular focus on sensory fun, with a real-life sandy beach, complete with a special sensory sea that gave the look and feel of the sea – without having to get wet!

Supported children and siblings also had the chance to take part in special seaside-inspired arts and crafts including sand dough handprints, which could then be decorated with shells and coloured pebbles. Families also had a chance to bring some of their very own sea back with them – with special ocean sensory bags complete with glitter, sea creatures and shells all in a zip lock bag. Bonnie and Dan from The Bubble Lady kept all the family entertained creating the most magnificent and beautiful rainbow bubbles, including ones so big families could fit inside – which many of the children couldn’t wait to do!

Lilah enjoys a dingy ride ahead of the Beach Activity Day

No seaside would be complete without some animals, as two lovely donkeys from the local Donkey sanctuary trotted by to say hello, as well as Teddy the Therapy Shetland Pony, who often comes to visit the children at the hospice.

Those with a sweet tooth were in for a treat with plenty of tasty cakes – including 100 bright and beautiful cupcakes kindly arranged to be delivered by Lilah’s mum Lisa.

Barbie Hibbard, Activities Coordinator at Christopher’s said:

“I cannot thank Lilah enough for her donation to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices. All the children were able to take part in some wonderful beach activities and receive a lovely sea creature soft toy and bubbles to take home. The children were able to have some bubble fun with Bonnie the Bubble lady who created some wonderful rainbow bubbles with the children inside the bubble, which was just amazing. So a big thank you to Lilah and her mum Lisa for their kind thoughts, it meant so much to be able to put on such a lovely event for the children and families to come and spend time together.”

Anne Bridgman, Head of Care at Christopher’s said:

“The activity day was an amazing success with 18 families coming to the event which totalled 69 supported children, siblings and adults. It is so lovely to see all the families getting to know each other and sharing experiences at these events and having so much fun. Many of these families find it hard to access public events like these, but when they come to the hospice, the families feel at ease and know many of the staff and volunteers so the whole family enjoys these hospice events. Through these events, the families have made lots of friends, who otherwise they would not have met.”

Lisa concludes:

“When Lilah came home she was beaming with pride and feeling like a celebrity and was overwhelmed, in a lovely way, with the reception she had from the hospice team that day. The kind birthday card and plaque received from the hospice team remains a lovely memory of Lilah’s 7th birthday and the difference she felt she made.”

Have a celebration coming up? Why not set up a donation page online to share with friends and family and ask for donations to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices in lieu of gifts. If you use Facebook you can easily set up a Facebook fundraiser to support them – all donations made through Facebook go straight to the charity, with no commission.