Man whose daughter died from blood cancer keeping hospital tuck shops stocked during Covid-19 crisis
A WEST Belfast man whose daughter died from blood cancer is keeping hospital tuck shops stocked for patients and healthcare staff during the coronavirus crisis.
One of the facilities is located in the ward at the haematology ward at Belfast City Hospital where Sean Smyth's daughter Eimear passed away last year.
Although "broken-hearted" Mr Smyth said they wanted to give "a little kindness back" to help others at thisi time.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak began, the fund set up in memory of Eimear has been helping to supply stock to ward 10 North and the Beechcroft Inpatient Unit for children and adolescents suffering mental health issues.
Mr Smyth said they were delighted to be able to make "such a difference" to many patients left isolated and who, due to illness, are unable to leave the wards or receive any visitors.
His daughter Eimear Gooderham died last June, just a week after marrying her fiancé Philip in hospital.
The make-up artist from the Coolnasilla area, was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in September 2016 shortly after she had graduated.
After a lengthy search for a suitable stem cell donor, she received a transplant in November 2018, but sadly died in June following complications. The 'Eimear’s Wish' campaign was established in 2019 following her death.
Mr Smyth said he continues to try to help the patients and staff of the ward where his daughter was cared for.
"The nurses told us after the lockdown that visitors weren't allowed and the shops closed in the hospital, that patients were left isolated," he said.
"I said to them, 'what can we do?' One of them said the patients missed having wee treats, so that's where the idea of the tuck shop came from.
"We had £1,000 in reserve in the fund and we used £500 towards sanitiser for the hospital and £200 to get the tuck shop up and running.
"Something that puts a smile on their face, whether it's crisps, chocolate or a biscuit with their cup of tea.
"The nurse said when the patients heard about the tuck shop, they were all lined up with money in their hands, but we are doing it all for free."
After the facility was launched at the haematology ward, Mr Smyth was contacted about opening a similar shop in a unit for young people with mental health issues (CAMHS) in south Belfast.
"These are young people in need, we were delighted to be able to help them too," he said.
"Musgrave Cash & Carry let me fill up a trolley full of stock, which we are so appreciative of and we've had generous donations which has allowed us to be stock the tuck shops.
"We also got Easter eggs for the patients too - it has made such a difference.
"We are broken-hearted. We are devastated, but if we can give a little kindness back to others at this time. It is unbelievable what a little treat such as this can make to people."