Children’s books donated to hospital

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Children’s books worth more than £750 have been donated to Tunbridge Wells Hospital thanks to a couple joining forces with a local business.

Tom Martell, who works at a care home in Crowborough, has been supporting the hospital as a way of thanking staff for the care they provided provided to his girlfriend’s baby when she was born prematurely.

Robyn Gibbins’s daughter Ella spent five months on the neonatal unit followed by a month on Hedgehog Ward, before going home on 29th March 2014 – just in time for Mother’s Days. Sadly Ella passed away in 2015, before her second birthday.

After hearing that books and toys had to be discarded as part of infection prevention and control measures due to the pandemic, the couple decided to raise funds to help buy new replacements.

Tom, who is Chef Manager and Carer at Woodlands Care Home, said:

We try to do small donations little and often to the hospital but after dropping a collection of Easter eggs off for children on Hedgehog Ward back in April and hearing about the books being thrown away due to the pandemic, we decided to up our efforts and start a collection to replace them.

Tom Martell
Left to right: Health Play Specialists Rebecca Creed & Sheree Marks, Ann Morris, from Bookmania, and Tom Martell.

Tom and Robyn enlisted the help of Ann Morris, whose business Bookmania, in partnership with Usborne, raises funds to help buy books for schools, nurseries and charities.

Thanks to donations from businesses and charities across Kent and East Sussex, including a £250 donation from the satellite Rotary Club of Southborough and Pembury, £750 was raised in a couple of months. Bookmania also donated free books worth 10% of the total monies raised.

Ann played a huge part in making our vision become a reality so we are very grateful to her and her business for helping us reach our goal. Importantly, we couldn’t have done it without the support and backing of all those who donated, so from the bottom of mine and Robyn’s heart, ‘thank you’.

Tom Martell

The books were recently presented to members of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust’s play team.

Jackie Tyler, Lead Matron for Pediatrics, said:

We are extremely grateful to Ann, Tom and all the donors for their generous donation.

Having the new books will bring a lot of joy to the children on our wards and units and will not only put a smile on their faces but also help to pass the time away during their stay with us.

Jackie Tyler, Lead Matron for Pediatrics
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