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Journey to operating theatre at Raigmore Hospital to become more child-friendly thanks to Archie Foundation; Appeal for support amid surge in requests for emergency grants from cash-strapped families


By Val Sweeney

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The entrance to the Highland Children's Unit at Raigmore Hospital.
The entrance to the Highland Children's Unit at Raigmore Hospital.

Young patients heading to the operating theatre at Raigmore Hospital will have a more child-friendly journey from spring thanks to a children’s charity.

The route between the children’s unit and the theatre is being refurbished thanks to the Archie Foundation which has been making a difference for sick children in the Highlands for the past 10 years.

Highland solicitor Mary Nimmo, chairwoman of Archie Highland, said completing the interactive garden outside the unit proved popular with young patients and their families in 2021.

“Now we’re tackling ‘Journey to Theatre’, which aims to make a child’s journey to surgery much less intimidating,” she said.

“They go along a sterile corridor and into a service lift and it can be frightening for many.

“We’re investing in refurbishing that area to make it less alarming and more child-friendly.”

The project comes as there has been a surge of applications to the charity’s emergency grants fund from cash-hit families, on top of a huge increase in grants during 2021 because of the pandemic.

“People with children in the ward, often travelling significant distances, need clothes, accommodation for overnight stays, food and toiletries,” Ms Nimmo said.

“Family budgets have been stretched by Covid-19 at an already stressful time with a child in hospital.

“Omicron is bringing restricted working hours which, coupled with rising heating costs, requires us to step in and provide the kind of help which enables parents to visit a child patient as often as they would like.”

Mary Nimmo speaks at a fundraiser for Archie Highland.
Mary Nimmo speaks at a fundraiser for Archie Highland.

She appealed to donors old and new to be as generous as possible to replenish the charity’s resources.

Although the pandemic hit fundraising in 2021, events in latter months raised more than £150,000 enabling the charity to start the new year in better shape than previously feared.

Prosecco picnics at Culloden House Hotel raised over £42,000 for the Archie Foundation. Picture: John Paul.
Prosecco picnics at Culloden House Hotel raised over £42,000 for the Archie Foundation. Picture: John Paul.

Prosecco picnics at Culloden House Hotel raised more than £42,000, a golf day in Nairn produced more than £10,000, while a Moonlight Ball at Inverness’s Kingsmills Hotel raked in £62,000, thanks to support from Highland Industrial Supplies.

A March through Italy food and wine occasion, sponsored by Macleod Roofing and organised by Norman MacDonald at Café 1, brought in £12,000 while the Inverness Provost’s Coal Fund provided key assistance.

A team of cyclists from Dynamic Edge tackled the North Coast 500 route to raise thousands of pounds for the Archie Foundation.
A team of cyclists from Dynamic Edge tackled the North Coast 500 route to raise thousands of pounds for the Archie Foundation.

Three new ambassadors are urging people to give their support.

Kenny Smith, lead singer of Torridon, said it was an “incredibly heartwarming” experience to see behind the scenes the extent of the work on the wards to support babies and children.

“It’s even more important at this time of year to remember that charities like Archie rely so heavily on public support and local generosity,” he said.

Donald Mathieson, managing director of D&E Coaches, hoped many would be inspired to help, either once again or for the first time.

“This amazing cause funded the state-of-the-art children’s ward, and I’ve been impressed by the way they have rolled out a stream of projects to benefit babies, children and their families,” he said.

Roy MacGregor, managing director of Global Energy Group, said: “Archie exists to make a difference in healthcare and bereavement for children and their families across the north and they deserve enormous credit for the way they’ve transformed children’s facilities at Raigmore.

“But as well as big capital projects, they keep providing smaller things that make a big difference to those affected, such as bringing comfort and respite to anxious parents.

“The Highlands needs Archie – and vice versa, so join the campaign to help.”

To support the Archie Foundation, visit Archie.org/highlands.

Archie welcomes Kenny Smith of Torridon as patron


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