THE world-famous children's hospital radio station – Radio Lollipop – is set to move into Ninewells this summer – with a little help from a Kirriemuir woman, writes Philip Murray.
From August 20 the children's ward will beam out the station for a couple of hours each day thanks to the dedicated effort of a small group of individuals.
And Kirrie resident Jacqui Marshall is one of two key organisers who are helping to make it happen.
Working as honorary fundraiser, Jacqui spearheaded a sponsored walk over the Tay Road Bridge last weekend and has a raft of other money spinners planned in the coming weeks to raise cash and increase the profile of the station in the area.
“There has been just the two of us involved for the past year-and-a-half but we recently completed our first induction and now have 28 volunteers in Dundee,” said Jacqui.
“Most of them are medical students but we're doing a lot of publicity to recruit members of the public.
“As well as the sponsored walk over the bridge, we've been writing to various TV and children's entertainment presenters to help get their support during the launch,” said Jacqui.
“In July one of our volunteers will be doing a tandem parachute jump to raise our funds; and on August 19 we'll be bringing a roadshow into the heart of Dundee city centre,” she added.
It's all a far cry from Jacqui's 'accidental' introduction to the charity a year-and-half ago.
After raising 1500 for Ninewells through a raffle at her work in Dundee's Tesco Extra she was invited to the hospital to hand it over for use on the proposed station.
There she and other guests were shown a video package detailing the charity's work and she was so moved that she has been heavily involved ever since.
“From the minute we watched the presentation I was totally hooked,” she continued. “Afterwards the organiser said that they had nobody in the area to take on the challenge and were looking for a management team – so I volunteered.
“The station will make such a difference to the children at the hospital. The idea to bring it to Ninewells was from one of the paediatric doctors, who had been involved with the Edinburgh Sick Children's Hospital and had seen what a difference it made there.
“The kids all looked forward to it when it came on at six p.m. and he was amazed to see that for the two hours it ran the children never asked for any medication – it encouraged them to play and stopped them thinking about their pain.
“So when he moved to Dundee he asked management if they would contact the station about the possibility of bringing it up here,” she added.Ninewells is set to be a bit of a departure for the charity. Traditionally broadcast in children's hospitals this will be one of the rare occasion's when Radio Lollipop will air in a general hospital.
But if the charity has its way it certainly won't be the last. Ninewells is currently pioneering a new satellite broadcast service for the station. Shows will be beamed in from Edinburgh, and if all goes well other hospitals intend to follow suit.
“We're going to be the first satellite link-up station,” added Jacqui. “Word is that Radio Lollipop has now been approached by quite a few hospitals about the idea – Aberdeen hopes to be next up if all goes well at the launch and we survive with no hiccups on the phone lines,” she said.
Jacqui is keen to hear from potential volunteers and fundraisers and is also eager to speak to local shopkeepers about the possibility of selling raffle tickets for the launch day.
A massive charity balloon launch is planned at the hospital on the day for which the public can buy tickets in the hope of winning a prize.
Jacqui has already had some success in gaining the support of local businesses. At the weekend's recent sponsored walk, local company Hi–Fli (an offshoot of J. & D. Wilkie's) provided a promotional banner and will be offering its services throughout the campaign. Jacqui would like to thank them for the work they have done.
To get in touch with Radio Lollipop at Ninewells call (01382) 496 681 or email email@example.com.
Over the past-quarter of a century Radio Lollipop has expanded from just one hospital (Queen Mary's in Surrey) to roughly 20 today and broadcasts at sites in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
It exists to provide smiles and laughter to children during their stay in hospital.