A KIND Omagh County PS pupil, who has Crohn’s Disease, is helping to make sick children across Omagh smile by providing them with a special gift box when they visit hospital.
Over the past few months, Alex Hamilton has helped to raise hundreds of pounds so that he can create little boxes and purchase gifts for his very own charity initiative, called ‘Alex’s Surprise Box’.
The aim of the initiative is to give these presents to children receiving treatment at the Children’s Centre at Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex to help provide them with happiness and comfort at a difficult time in their lives.
Alex’s feat has been made even more remarkable by the fact that last year, the seven-year-old was himself diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – a chronic life-long condition which causes inflammation of the digestive system.
Since then, he 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.
It goes without say, then, that Alex’s mum, Valerie Hamilton couldn’t be any prouder of her generous son.
“Alex is very considerate and is always wanting to help others – he is an inspiration,” she smiled. “He has also 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 was the very first child to have his bloods taken at the new Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex – and it was this practice that inspired him to come up with the idea of ‘Alex’s Surprise Box’.
The generous pupil needs to have his bloods taken regularly, and each time he gets it done, he is offered a sticker and sometimes even a certificate for his bravery.
However on one occasion at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Alex had found it particularly uncomfortable and painful, and so he was offered a special treat from a surprise box instead.
Having to make a choice as to which small item he wanted from the surprise box distracted him from the pain, and he excitedly picked out a pack of cards which he couldn’t wait to play with during his journey home.
It was then that Alex suggested how nice it would be to introduce a surprise box at the Children’s Centre, Omagh.
Alex and his proud mum, Valerie discussed this 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 also support the feat.
Martina Reynolds, the Community Champion, took the lead on this and during the month of January, she 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.
Alex feels very proud and is thankful that his family, his school and Tesco got behind his idea and supported him in making his fellow children smile during their hospital treatments.
The seven-year-old 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.