'Inclusive' cheeky elves spread cheer at Ipswich children's hospice

East Anglia's Children's Hospice Hailey Allen and Rachel van den Brink-Budgen with the elves at the treehouse in Ipswich

East Anglia's Children's Hospices Play Specialist Hailey Allen (left) and Clinical Nurse Specialist Rachel van den Brink-Budgen (right) showing off the new elves - Credit: East Anglia's Children's Hospices

A pair of relatable elves have been donated to an Ipswich hospice to spread Christmas cheer with children staying there.   

The disobedient duo were donated to The Treehouse — East Anglia's Children’s Hospice (EACH) Ipswich base.

The pair are unique and were custom-made to be relatable for youngsters receiving intrusive care and support. 

One of the elves has a tracheostomy — which, on a child, would suggest breathing or secretion problems — and a nasogastric feeding tube. The other elf has a nasal cannula to supply oxygen. 

The Elves on the Shelf will be taking up residence in East Anglia's Children's Hospices Treehouse facility, at Ipswich

The elves have been custom made by Fiona Allan to be more relatable to children with medical devices - Credit: East Anglia's Children's Hospices

The elves were provided by Fiona Allan, who runs an online business called Crafty Fiona producing custom-made toys with medical devices. 

Ms Allan hopes to donate 40 elves to hospitals and hospices, and a post on Facebook promoting this was spotted by Laurene Morrow, whose daughter Freya receives care at the Treehouse. 

Freya, from Colchester, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress (SMARD) and is vented via a tracheotomy, fed through a feeding tube and uses a wheelchair to get around.

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Ms Morrow said: “Freya is at an age where she notices how different she is from her school friends.

“She often wishes she looked the same, but when I showed her the elves she was so pleased and excited that they looked like her.”

Rachel Van Den Brink-Budgen, a specialist nurse at EACH, said: "The idea is that these elves are inclusive, and children will relate to them in a way they might not otherwise.

“They will be able to see elves that look the same as them or appear to have been through something similar. It’s very special.

“I suspect a lot of the children that come to us for respite care will have an elf at home. They might miss them if they’re here for two or three nights and this will hopefully help.

“It’s a lovely touch and something fun for the staff, too.

“I sent an email saying ‘guess who’s back’, because we had elves here last year, and had some great responses.

“People were saying ‘this is brilliant’ and ‘I can’t wait’. Hopefully, everyone will get involved.

“Our new additions look quite mischievous so I feel there will be some antics, but I also think they might do some kind things, too.”