At last an opportunity to try snails in Australia. When the time came to order I was absorbed listening to tales of hospital ward grandparents. With menu in hand and so many delicacies, I just pointed to the middle of the page, ahhh… duck liver pâté. All was not lost, at this gathering of over thirty hospital ward grandparent volunteers from over 6 hospitals across NSW, plates were scraped clean and for each of the three courses nobody appeared to regret their order.
“Grannies” who normally couldn’t envisage making room for dessert, simply didn’t have qualms when the time came. Once more, plates were left clean and all that remained were a few drips of sauce. Very little caramel was left on mine.
However, this was more than a delicious lunch at The Little Snail restaurant. It was an opportunity to celebrate National Volunteer Week 2015 and recognise the work of the AWCH Hospital Ward Grandparent volunteers to thank them for all they do to enhance the lives of sick children and their families in hospital. Volunteers spoke of times spent with shocked families in emergency waiting rooms, sharing toys and books with children and just being a supportive presence for parents. It was a proud moment when photos of a young boy were shared amongst volunteers who had cared for him over a number of years. They were on a journey with him and his family. This little boy with chubby cheeks and a winning smile had ‘graduated’ from hospital.
An informative guest speaker from Genetic Alliance Australia , Dianne, talked about their important work, giving listeners much food for thought. Genetic Alliance Australia supports families from the point of diagnosis and works towards making lives better for people living with rare diseases and genetic conditions. GAA is housed in the Garvan Institute of Medical Research building. This is where scientific advances are initiated and recent improvements in bringing early diagnosis to Australians has had a huge impact on people’s lives.
Lastly, in the spirit of fun, AWCH decided to give away some books that the ward grannies could read to their children. For a change the books were not about being sick. Instead the thought was to spark children’s imagination and take them to another place. The books aimed at pre-schoolers and school children were, Don’t let the pigeon ride the bus, Don’t let the pigeon stay up late, Tashi, Aussie bites : the bugalugs bum thief ….
I then highlighted a few recent books written to help parents cope with their child’s medical and surgical procedures and hospitalisation. These too were snapped up. They were Help! my child’s in hospital, by Becky Wauchope and Everybody stay calm, by Angela MacKenzie. I held tightly on to the one American book, it was harder to get Parenting children with health issues and special needs : love and logic essentials for raising happy, healthier kids – people are invited to borrow this book.