A boxful of cheer for children in hospital

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Children in hospital this Christmas have been given some festive cheer thanks to a little Cupar girl who is herself undergoing cancer treatment.

Five-year-old Agatha King called on her classmates in P1 at St Columba’s Primary to help her collect for the Fairy Box charity, set up by Dundee woman Rosie Butler, whose own daughter spent long periods in hospital being treated for cancer.

The idea is that people donate new but unwanted gifts suitable for children aged 16 and under to be kept in a box in children’s wards and used to cheer them up during tougher times.

And Agatha’s efforts exceeded all expectaions, with two cars needed to transport the gifts to Ward 29, the children’s ward at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

The kind little girl and her younger brother Bacchus even asked people to donate to the charity instead of buying them presents for their birthdays in November.

“Agatha’s school has been amazing,” said the children’s mum Karen.

“Mrs Young, Agatha’s teacher, helped to organise the collection within the school and we collected two huge boxes to take to the hospital.

“Combined with all the presents Agatha and Bacchus collected from their birthdays we had absolutely loads.

“We had to take two cars to the hospital as we couldn’t fit it all into one - and we have a seven-seater with a big boot.

“The hospital were amazed and so pleased.”

Meanwhile Karen, husband Kevin, Bacchus and baby Meredith are all keeping their fingers crossed that Agatha is well enough to enjoy a family Christmas at home.

She has now started the maintenance phase of her treatment, which involves regular chemo for the next two years.

After a break of five weeks to allow her counts to recover, Agatha then had nine doses in a week, which hit her hard.

However, she perked up towards the end of last week and managed to go back to school on three days.

“I’d arranged to pick her up at lunchtime on Wednesday and when I got there she was having so much fun much fun she sent me away!” said Karen.

“She wanted to stay all day, so that was really lovely.

“We just need to keep her well so we don’t need to spend Christmas in hospital.

“The best present we re all hoping for is to be able to spend Christmas together at home.”

This isn’t the first time since her diagnosis that Agatha has put others before herself.

Before beginning chemotherapy back in March, she had her waist-length blonde hair cut off in aid of the Little Princess Trust, a charity that makes wigs for children with cancer.

And despite her treatment, Agatha achieved a milestone in August that her parents once didn’t think possible - she started school along with all her friends.

The family didn’t know until the day before whether consultants would give her the go-ahead.

As well as Ninewells, the Fairy Box charity also supports a number of other hospitals in Scotland, including Perth Royal Infirmary and the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy.

For more information, visit www.fairybox.org