'Christmas hasn't passed me by, Christmas is here' - Pastor who spent Christmas Day in hospital praises festive cheer
It may have been one of the busiest times of year for a Norfolk minister.
But when Rev Mark Taylor, from Carleton Rode Baptist Church, near Attleborough had chest pains on Christmas Eve 2014 , he feared he would miss out on the festivities the festive season brings.
Father-of-four Mr Taylor, who otherwise would have been organising services, was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and it soon became clear he would be spending the big day in a hospital bed.
“For the first time I was not spending Christmas with my family,” he said.
“I was really upset in a sense that I wasn’t with my family at home but also that it was the day I should be with my church family and I wasn’t able to do that either and I really felt that Christmas was going to pass me by.”
“I spent the night on a ward and I can remember it was quite busy during the night, but then at about 7am this health care assistant burst into the room dragging a big box.
“She was dressed as an elf but with antlers on and a red nose, and she shouted ‘he’s been, he’s been’.
“It was quite an entrance and she handed everyone a present, all wrapped up. I thought at that moment ‘Christmas hasn’t passed me by, Christmas is here’.
“Later in the day we had a Christmas lunch and buffet tea – the routine of the ward went on but first thing in the morning and meal times, everyone really made an effort to make it feel like Christmas.
“When my family came in I told them ‘he’s been’ and I think they were also pleased that when they were at home opening their presents we had had a bit of fun too.”
Mr Taylor was discharged late on Christmas Day after a heart rhythm problem was diagnosed. He has since joined the hospital chaplaincy team and sees first hand the difference a small gift can make to a patient.
He said: “Go around the wards at any time and there are some people who have an empty table next to their bed, which says perhaps nobody has visited this person. They haven’t got a bottle of squash, no little cards on the wall. Maybe they don’t have anybody at home, you don’t know.
“I remember when I was in hospital, the person in the bed next to me – he had nobody come to see him.”
The NNUH aims to give every patient a present on Christmas Day under their Send a Smile with Santa appeal, supported by this newspaper.
Mr Taylor added: “This time of year, churches and other groups are often looking for Christmas projects, and I think this would be a fantastic appeal to support.“
Where to drop off presents
All presents should remain unwrapped so that the hospital can ensure that presents are individually tailored and wrapped for each patient, as well as protecting against potential infection. In addition to gifts, the hospital would also welcome donations of gift bags.
A wishlist is available on the John Lewis website by visiting bit.ly/1qVN7kd and typing in code 751747 or an list is also available on Amazon at amzn.to/2NPwIBc
The hospital cannot accept homemade gifts, electrical items, sharp objects or any used goods.
Gifts can be dropped off at:
• Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich;
• West inpatient reception level one, NNUH;
• Costa Coffee, London Street, Norwich;
• Jet service station, Norwich Road, Halesworth;
• Norwich railway station customer service.