IT’S not every day that a polar bear, a meerkat and a Disney princess have the chance to be in the same room together.
But that’s exactly what happened at a party in Portsmouth – all arranged to put a smile on the faces of sick and disabled children from across the area.
These children have gone through so much adversity and pain in their lives, days like this are so, so special – not just for them but for the whole family tooRob Martin, of Paulsgrove
Scores of families joined the 15th Mad Hatter’s Party, held at the Marriott Hotel in North Harbour yesterday.
Each year, people from all walks of life pitch in to throw a party for youngsters from the cancer wards at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Southampton General Hospital and other specialist care centres such as The Rainbow Centre in Fareham.
This year’s guest was EastEnders actress and ‘Queen of the Jungle’, Charlie Brooks.
The I’m A Celebrity-winner said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who came to support the day.
‘Everyone has really pulled the stops out today. It’s been absolutely amazing,’ she said.
Pompey manager Paul Cook and Blues captain Michael Doyle were on hand to sign footballs while local TV presenter Fred Dinenage greeted families.
And there were plenty of activities, too, with a petting zoo, dancing and a chance to meet masked superheroes Batman and Spider-Man as well as real-life heroes from the police and fire service.
Rob Martin, 55, of Cheltenham Road, Paulsgrove, spent the day with his disabled daughter Maddie, and her three sisters and brother.
He said: ‘These children have gone through so much adversity and pain in their lives, days like this are so, so special – not just for them but for the whole family, too.’
Maddie, 11, has spina bifida – a condition where the spine does not develop properly.
The Miltoncross Academy pupil said: ‘I’ve loved everything today.’ For 12-year-old Regan Jackaman, of Lancing in West Sussex, the best part of the day was the food.
Regan, who is in remission from cancer, added: ‘Today’s made me feel special.’
Organiser Malcolm Drew thanked everybody for helping. He added: ‘So many people volunteered this year – we couldn’t take on everyone.’