Children’s charity thrilled by business support for kids’ Christmas party

Children’s charity thrilled by business support for kids’ Christmas party

An East Midlands charity which provides support to the families of children born with a cleft lip or palate has thanked local businesses for backing its annual Christmas party event.

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 took place on Sunday, 1 December. A host of local firms lined up to back the event by donating raffles prizes and presents for some of the youngsters who attended, which were handed out by Santa on the day.

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

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: “It was a fantastic day and a great way to start the festive season by bringing big smiles to the children we support, and their families.

“We’d especially like to thank Paul Rowlett, from Everything Branded; Darren Wilson, from UXcentric Ltd; Chris Forster, from Quiet Storm Solutions; Steve Bull from Elite Mi; and Jon Smart, from JSS Media for their support in donating presents and raffle prizes.

“Thanks to their kindness and generosity, we managed to raise almost £300 from the raffle, which is double the amount of money we normally raise.”

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 added: “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.”

To find out more about Big Smiles and the work it does, visit

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