London

Sick children's Christmas presents stolen from hospital

St Mary's hospital exterior Image copyright JUSTIN TALLIS
Image caption The presents were stolen from a ward on St Mary's Hospital in Paddington

Christmas presents intended for critically ill children have been stolen from a hospital.

Around 150 gifts, worth about £3,000, were taken from a disused ward at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, central London.

The presents were due to be given out at a Christmas party on 11 December.

Details emerged earlier as Cosmic - the Children of St Mary's Intensive Care charity - launched an appeal to replace the stolen items.

Also taken during the theft were Christmas decorations and a Santa suit that has been used to entertain children at the hospital for more than a decade.

Image copyright Cosmic
Image caption Children have been enjoying the 'very special' Santa suit at St Mary's for over ten years

The paediatric intensive care unit at St Mary's treats children for conditions including meningitis, sepsis or trauma.

Tina Halton, lead play specialist St Mary's, said: "It's really sad that something like this could happen. It's hard being in hospital at Christmas and it's hard to have a sick child. That's why we tried to fill it the hospital with nice things.

"I was so sad when I heard that we may not have our Santa suit this year. The children just love it, it's magical."

"A lot of families haven't been out to an event since their child was diagnosed as ill. Most people don't realise how tough it is to go to a party with a sick child," she added.

'Specially selected'

The Christmas party and a carol concert are due to go ahead, but the head of fundraising at Cosmic, Vicky Rees, said the stolen items will be difficult to replace.

"All the gifts have been specially selected for the children, as they may have special needs or requirements," she said.

Det Sgt Tom Hirst, from the Met Police, said: "This is an awful crime at this time of year and hard to imagine what kind of person would steal gifts so clearly destined for sick children to make their lives a little brighter this festive season.

"We are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to please contact us as soon as possible."

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