Can you help bring a big smile to children this Christmas?

Can you help bring a big smile to children this Christmas?

An East Midlands charity which aims to bring together the families of children born with a cleft lip or palate is calling on businesses to support its annual Christmas party.

Big Smiles is a friendly, informal support group based in Nottingham for families across the Trent region who have or are expecting a child with a cleft lip and/or palate. It meets on the last Thursday of each month, during term time, and provides a space for children to play while their families network and provide support to each other, as well as signposting families to specialist cleft nurses and support services.

Its annual Christmas party takes place on 1 December. At the party, Santa comes and gives each child a present, the parents can all share stories and get support and the kids get to socialise with other cleft families.

This year, the charity is calling on local businesses to support it by either donating a prize for the raffle, or a present for the children. The children vary in age from birth to around 12 years, so all donations are gratefully accepted. 

In the UK, there are 1,200 children born with a cleft every year and around one in every 700 children born around the world will have a cleft.

Richard Shakespeare, Managing Director of Workplace Diversity Solutions, has first hand experience of the support the charity provides. His son, George, was born with a cleft lip and palate in May 2018.

George has undergone two rounds of surgery at the Queen’s Medical Centre, in Nottingham, and has received some amazing support from both the care staff at the hospital, and from Big Smiles.

Richard said: “When George went in for his first operation last October, he was in theatre for almost six hours. The specialist cleft nurses were an incredible support to me and my wife, especially when we knew he'd have to have another six-hour operation less than three months later.

“The support we have received since has been amazing.

“Cleft is a condition that is more common than you think but its impact can be treated with specialist surgery, therapy and treatment, and ongoing support from charities like Big Smiles.

“So, if any local businesses can help by donating raffle prizes or gifts this year, you’ll be helping to bring a big smile to some children this Christmas.”

If you’d like to get involved, drop Richard a line at for more details.

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