John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club marks 25 years with fundraiser at Newcastle Harness Racing Club

Good cause: Volunteers Carol McMurray, Dorothy Gale, Jan Waugh, Dianne Riding and Geoff Waugh at their twice-monthly stall at the hospital doors selling handcrafted items including clothing. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

JAN Waugh describes her collective’s role asproviding “little things that keep hospital happy”.

She is secretary of the John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club, which was formed in 1993 by former Newcastle deputy lord mayor Frank Rigby and has raised more than $3 million for much-needed equipment and mood-lifting extras for pint-sized patients.

“We’re happy to do anything we can to help improve a child’sstay in hospital –it can be such a tough time,” Ms Waugh said.

“We feel we’re giving back to the community, we see we’re doing good work and consider our role asimportant and helpful.”

Acting on requests from staff, the clubhas funded projects including a $11,280 3D printer that surgeons use to prepare for operations;$44,990 worth of audiology screening equipment for newborns, a $46,697 remote monitoring and clinician notification system for oncology, a $23,468 photo therapy system to resolve jaundice in babies, pluscountless blood pressure monitors and breast pumps with mobile stands.

It has also obtained a $186,000 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for a webcam systemthat allows families to watch newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“We’re happy to look at the hospital’swish list and if we’ve got the money, we get it,” she said.

“They may not be able to buy it yet, but we help them get it now.”

It has also paid for play therapy volunteers, ‘smarty bags’ filled with puzzles and colouring in sheets for the siblings of patients, a gift for the first babies born on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Mother’s Day and more.

“They’re little things that keep hospital happy,” she said. “It’s about the softer side of hospital.”

Ms Waugh and 14 volunteers collect funds throughgrants, raffles over 22 years at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club, collection tins, theatre nights,a twice-monthly stall at the hospital doors selling handcrafted items including children’s clothes, rugs, library bags and towels, and much-appreciated donations.

She said the “lovely” community was critical to the club’s success.

The Newcastle Cake Decorators’Guild and Newcastle Lapidary Club provides prizes for raffles, while the Horizons Golf Resortladies craft group, Novocastrian Quilters and others donate their work for the stall.

“It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling and shows what a wonderful place the Hunter is,” she said.

“People care and work hard to support others.”

Newcastle Harness Racing Club is hosting a fundraising function for the kids club called Smile @ The Newcastle Mile on May 26.

Tickets, $50,include paceway entry, athree course meal, $10 donation to the kids club, live entertainment for families and fundraising activities.

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