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Royal London throws teenage bash for young patients spending Christmas in hospital

PUBLISHED: 18:11 24 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:32 26 November 2014

Victoria Phillips and daughter Antonia Payne-Cheney, 17

Victoria Phillips and daughter Antonia Payne-Cheney, 17

Barts NHS trust

Teenager Antonia Payne-Cheney is spending Christmas in the youngsters’ ward after languishing 10 months in hospital unable to walk.

Victoria Phillips and daughter Antonia Payne-Cheney, 17Victoria Phillips and daughter Antonia Payne-Cheney, 17

The 17-year-old has had 10 operations so far—with another two to go at the Royal London before she hopes to go home in the New Year.

Antonia has the rare Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which debilitates the body’s connective tissues and can affect the skin, tendons, ligaments and bones.

Katie and Shae enjoy the cartoon workshop and making 'mocktails'Katie and Shae enjoy the cartoon workshop and making 'mocktails'

But she has a smile after volunteers threw a teenage party for her and 60 other young patients aged 12 to 19 and their friends.

Antonia was so thrilled that she hand-made tokens for the staff and volunteers.

Jordan Gaspar [left] and Phil Sergiou skilling up as DJs at the teenage bashJordan Gaspar [left] and Phil Sergiou skilling up as DJs at the teenage bash

Her mum Victoria was one of the parents “barred from the children’s health space” for the youngsters first-ever ‘teenagers only’ party. She has been living at Stevenson House hostel nearby, run by the Sick Children’s Trust in Whitechapel, 100 miles from their Gloucestershire home, to be near her daughter.

The young patients planned the party themselves, even right down to the dress code. They decided on a ‘black and white’ theme—so even the colour TV was switched off.

Ellina Saouli, 10, and her mum Kinga at the Royal LondonEllina Saouli, 10, and her mum Kinga at the Royal London

Instead, it was graffiti T-shirt workshops, making mocktails or fruit cocktails, taking snaps in a fancy-dress photo booth, getting spray tattoos and running a nail bar.

“Being a teenager is such an important time in life to try new things with friends,” Bart’s NHS health trust’s Sally Shearer said. “Having a disability, illness or long-term condition shouldn’t stop anyone from achieving all that comes with growing up and gaining independence.”

The hospital has youngsters with severe and long-term conditions including cancer, cystic fibrosis and diabetes.

Hospital play team leader Tara Shea said: “Many children cope well with serious illness, while those with long-term conditions grow up into high-achieving young adults. We often form strong bonds with them and their families.”

The Rays of Sunshine charity gave £3,000 for the party, while Bethnal Green’s Just Cakes patisserie supplied the goodies and there was entertainment by a DJ, cartoonist and illusionist — all to make sure the teenage bash went with a splash.


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