Mum collects advent calendars for Leeds Children's Hospital after nurse's act of kindness

A mum has delivered hundreds of advent calendars to Leeds Children's Hospital for a third year after promising to never forget a nurse's act of kindness when her son was seriously ill.

By Mark Lavery
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 4:45 am

Six-year-old Finley Chapman was diagnosed with a rare disease when he was aged two and was in hospital over Christmas 2018 and 2019.

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His mum Clare, of Pudsey, said a nurse gave Finley an advent calendar ahead of one Christmas in hospital - a gesture that had a big impact on her family.

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Clare Chapman (right) pictured with some of the donated advent calendars and a member of nursing staff at Leeds Children's Hospital

She said: "It made us realise that people were still thinking about us.

"It meant so much that someone had kindly donated this at a time when we felt very lost and alone."

It inspired Clare to launch a crowdfunding campaign, which paid for more than 550 advent calendars for youngsters being treated at Leeds Children’s Hospital for Christmas 2019.

She collected and donated 733 advent calendars last year and this year has amassed a record 1,316 calendars.

Clare Chapman pictured with some of the donated advent calendars at Leeds Children's Hospital

They have been handed out to children at a number of hospitals and care centres including Leeds Children's Hospital, Barnardos in Leeds and Farnley Children's Centre.

Clare said: "I thought it might be a bit of a struggle this year with Covid hitting businesses and people not having quite as much spare money.

"But the support has been amazing, it has blown me away."

Clare Chapman delivering advent calendars to Leeds Children's Hospital

Parents of children at a number of Leeds primary schools have been donating advent calendars and collections have also been taking place at supermarkets.

Schools involved were Pudsey Waterloo, Pudsey Primrose Hill, Armley Park and Calverley Parkside.

Leeds Children's Hospital matron Sarah Fletcher, said: "We're so grateful to Clare and everyone who has donated.

"For children facing Christmas in hospital, separated from their families, having something to look forward to every day is so important.

Finley Chapman pictured aged four in November 2019.

"We're able to tell families that each calendar is donated by someone who has been in their position and understands what it's like to be in hospital at Christmas time which makes it such a meaningful gift and we know that each one is truly appreciated."

Finley was born with a rare disease that meant he choked on every meal and said it was a constant battle to keep him alive for more than two years.

Finley was aged two-and-a-half when it was discovered that an intolerance to dairy was the trigger for a rare allergic disorder stopping him swallowing food properly.

Finley spent the first two weeks of his life in the special care baby unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

He was underweight and had difficulty breathing and eating, but doctors could not identify the problem.

Finley Chapman pictured aged four in November 2019.

Regularly in and out of hospital, he underwent two exploratory operations at the age of two after suffering repeated chest infections and numerous bouts of pneumonia.

He also choked on every meal and was rushed to hospital by ambulance on three occasions.

He was eventually diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis - an allergic disorder that causes inflammation of the oesophagus.

His health improved overnight after dairy was removed from his diet.

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