Kindness is so clear to see in gift appeal

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It’s been a week of trouble and strife (no change there then). So amid Pompey’s woes and the public sector strike, we deliberately turn our attention today to a subject that shows the other side of life.

The picture we publish on page three bears testament not only to the kindness and determination of a bereaved mother, but to the generosity of people at large.

They have responded magnificently to the appeal by Pam Marshall for Christmas presents to give to desperately-ill children.

Pam’s efforts are inspired by a treasured moment a decade ago when her daughter, Hannah Westbrook, received a Christmas present from a stranger while she was being treated for cancer on the Piam Brown ward of Southampton General Hospital.

The little girl was so thrilled by that act of kindness that she decided to gather presents herself in future to give to other children on the ward.

Sadly, Hannah died aged just 10 in September 2004 but her wish comes true each year thanks to her mum Pam and her brother Adam.

They are busy again preparing for this year’s handout at the hospital and are the first to praise the generosity of those who have given gifts.

All will be cherished by the children concerned and their families, just as the mug Hannah received all those years ago will always be treasured.

It is sad to think that around 90 children will be at the ward to receive gifts.

Sad because for each individual family, Christmas will be tainted by worry and uncertainty.

But at the same time the generosity of strangers will bring huge comfort to so many.

As Pam says, a smile on the face of a poorly little boy or girl is a priceless sight.

People’s generosity also helps to fund the vital research into preventing and tackling cancer.

Let us hope that as our knowledge advances, fewer and fewer children will be in hospital to receive gifts at Christmas.

In the meantime, we salute the kindness of all those involved.

It reminds us that life is not all bad, by any means.