The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

The real meaning of Christmas by Dean Royles

29 December 2017

If you ask anyone for the real meaning of Christmas you will get a variety of responses: new life, hope, peace on earth, good will and of course presents and chocolate! But by far the most common response is that the spirit of Christmas embodied in the gift of giving to others. And it seems to me to be universally true that the older we get the more joy we receive from being able to give to others. This can be tangible things in the form of presents to children and families or indeed giving time to others. Spending our time with families or with our communities is a central aspect is Christmas celebrations . This is particularly evident in the NHS with so many staff spending Christmas away from family and friends to be with those ill and in need of care or indeed the joy of helping to bring new life into the world in our maternity units.

On Christmas Day alone it is estimated that 97,000 nurses and 53,000 nursing assistance worked in hospitals whilst 12,000 midwives were expecting to welcome around 1400 Christmas babies into the world. Here in Leeds we had 17 new arrivals at our St James's and LGI sites, welcoming one of our first Christmas babies at 6.21 on Christmas morning (covered here in the Yorkshire Post).

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But here at Leeds Teaching Hospital staff have not just been compassionate and dedicated with their time, they are being incredibly generous with their gifts. In the run-up to Christmas, we organised our "Reverse Advent Calendar" again. Instead of receiving a gift, staff were able to donate a gift to the St Georges Crypt - a charity supporting homeless people - just at the side of the Leeds General Infirmary.  We ended up transporting four large van loads!  So much in fact that we also provided some volunteers to help sort and distribute the gifts!



 We also ran, for the first time on the St James' site our "Santa to a Senior" campaign. Working with a local elderly action group to get the names of the senior citizens staff could buy presents for. Local senior citizens were invited to a carol service just before Christmas with the LTHT choir and children from our staff nurseries who sang "when Santa got stuck up the chimney". The children then helped distribute the presents to our senior citizens. It may just be me but it was very dusty in Bexley Wing and I'm sure I had something in my eye… 

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The rest of the presents were then distributed around the elderly in our local community and to elderly patients on our wards not expecting visitors on Christmas Day. We had a lovely message from the charity thanking our staff for their incredible generosity, and I know there were some very appreciative patients on Christmas Day



And if that wasn't enough giving, there is still another chance to help those less fortunate. If you have received a present that you don't need or won't use there is an opportunity to "pass on a present". Teams and departments on all our sites will be able to extend the season of goodwill and help spread some joy and happiness by passing on any unused or unwanted Christmas gifts. These will be passed to local charities including Leeds Children's Hospital Appeal, Day One Trauma and the Yorkshire Cancer Centre. Please drop off at the designated points at the LGI, SJUH, Chapel Allerton, Wharfdale and Seacroft between 9am and 12 Pm on Friday 12 January.



Thank you for your kindness, compassion and generosity.  I hope 2018 is a prosperous and happy one for you, your friends and family.

Thank you


Dean Royles, Director of Human Resources at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust