BLACK Cats heroes from yesteryear rubbed shoulders with the Easter Bunny on Sunderland Royal Hospital’s children’s wards yesterday.
SAFC FA Cup winners Ritchie Pitt and Micky Horswill visited the hospital with local charity Hope 4 Kidz, while staff from EDF Energy’s Doxford call centre also dropped in, accompanied by their furry friend.
Micky is a patron of Hope 4 Kidz and said he never ceases to be amazed by the generosity of the people of Wearside.
The charity has collected more than 2,000 eggs, which will be handed out to youngsters in hospitals, women’s refuges, children’s homes and homeless units across Sunderland.
“We do this every year and people never let us down,” he said.
“They always come through with donations for us, whether it be toys at Christmas or eggs at Easter.
We do this every year and people never let us down.Micky Horswill
“It is fantastic. The people of Sunderland are absolutely brilliant.”
Hope 4 Kidz’ Viv Watts said the charity was grateful for all the support it had received from individuals and businesses.
“It would not be possible without the backing of the public and businesses such as Gentoo, UKAR and Arriva,” she said.
“And we could not do it without the supermarkets who acted as drop-off points – Sainsburys in Wessington Way, at Silksworth and Washington, and Morrison’s at Seaburn and Doxford.”
Nicola Frater, Stephen Haram and Deanne Richardson, from EDF, had collected dozens of eggs from colleagues at the energy firm’s contact centre.
“We wanted to do something to help the community so we decided it would be a good idea to collect Easter eggs and give them out to local good causes.
“I just sent an e-mail round, telling people what we were going to do and inviting them to contribute eggs,” she said.
Customer relations manager Deanne was over the moon with the response from donors – and recipients.
“The response has been absolutely fantastic,” she said.
“I was overwhelmed by people’s generosity when they heard what we were planning to do – within days the eggs were piled high.
“We were really thrilled.”
Seeing the reaction from youngsters on the wards had made the whole thing worthwhile, she added.
“Today has been absolutely brilliant.
“It is always great to get the chance to come out and engage with the community and see the benefit of the things we do,” she said.
“And it has been lovely to get the chance to come here today and see the children’s faces when they meet the Easter Bunny and get their egg.
“It has been a really nice day.”
Jackie Burlison, Directorate Manager, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The children were very excited to meet the Easter Bunny and thoroughly enjoyed their chocolate eggs.
“The eggs have put a smile on the face of the children, especially those who came back from theatre that day.”
• EDF staff also donated Easter eggs to Doxford International neighbour Gentoo’s appeal, along with Barclays and Northern Gas Networks.
Beneficiaries included Ashkirk Homelessness Household Project, Children’s Services, Wearside Women in Need, Sans Street Youth and Community Centre, YMCA, Centrepoint, St David’s Community Church and St Benedict’s Hospice.
Amanda Ladner, Operations Manager (Volunteering) Gentoo said: “We are thrilled with the amount of eggs that have been donated. We couldn’t have done this without the generosity of our staff and partners EDF Energy, Barclays and Northern Gas Networks.
“In increasing times of austerity, it is even more important to support local families. Something small such as an Easter egg can make someone’s day.”