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Staff at Merseyrail have pledged their support to help Alder Hey Children’s Charity fund projects to entertain patients who might be daunted by the idea of a trip to hospital.

Employees voted for Alder Hey to be Merseyrail’s Charity of the Year for 2019-2020 after whittling their initial nominations down to a shortlist of eight.

Merseyrail kickstarted its fundraising activity with a £10,000 boost which will directly fund more visits from Alder Hey’s resident magician, Barrington Powell, who distracts and entertains children in waiting areas and clinics with his amazing tricks.

The partnership will help fund further distraction across the hospital, with projects including funding to fit treatment rooms with distraction aids such as wall coverings.

The fundraising activity will also help to fund a range of sensory toys and aids which will benefit Alder Hey patients. Some children, due to the nature of their conditions, find playing difficult and therefore require toys that are designed to give stimulation in a specific way. As well as offering play opportunities, these toys can offer comfort, relaxation, stimulation and learning opportunities.

Distraction and play is hugely important at Alder Hey as it not only reduces the time spent in an appointment, meaning that staff can treat more children each day but it also reduces anxiety and boredom during treatment too.

Andy Heath, Merseyrail’s Managing Director said: “Alder Hey Children’s Hospital delivers life-saving treatment to children and young people across the region and beyond, and we’re delighted that staff across Merseyrail, many of whom have experienced first-hand the services that Alder Hey provides, have chosen the charity arm as our Charity of the Year for 2019-2020.

“We’re very much looking forward to working with Alder Hey over the next 12 months, and to supporting the charity’s valuable efforts to improve the lives of the children whom it serves.”

Merseyrail staff’s first major fundraising event will take place during this year’s Randox Health Grand National Festival, when volunteers will be at both Aintree and Liverpool Central across all three days with collection buckets.

Elinor Freestone, Corporate Account Manager from Alder Hey Children’s Charity said: We are delighted that Merseyrail staff voted to support Alder Hey Children’s Charity in 2019/20. The money raised will go directly to ensure that we provide the best possible journey for all our patients.”