Lions delighted to support children's charityCurious pedestrians ambulating along Ilderton Road may have been puzzled by the sounds emanating from The Den on Wednesday afternoon. Instead of the elated roar of thousands of supporters celebrating The Lions latest victory, duly followed by the exhuberent strains of "Let 'em Come", said pedestrians were assailed by the sound of infant laughter and childish squeals of delight.
The clamour in question came from over 400 children attending the ECHO 2015 'Festive Fun at the Fair' Christmas party. ECHO (Evelina Children's Heart Organisation) is a charity which helps and supports children with heart conditions and their families.
ECHO provide comprehensive support from the point of diagnosis, which is often during pregnancy, through to the child's teenage years and beyond, including bereavement support for parents and siblings. Children with heart conditions often face an uncertain future, where medical tests and treatment become normality. Many families find it difficult to cope and welcome the support ECHO provide.
Millwall Football Club were happy to demonstrate their continuing commitment and support for ECHO by donating, for the eighth time, their largest hospitality suite, as well as the use of their car park and facilities.
The suite was lavishly decked with baubles, tinsel and balloons, while the entertainment included rides, circus acts, football skills, magic shows, face painting, games and crafts activities.
To add icing on the Christmas cake, every child was given a special present to take home!
One of the beneficiaries of ECHO'S support is young Lorcan Plunkett. Lorcan and his family have been members of ECHO ever since Lorcan was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis, requiring him to undergo heart surgery at the Evelina London Children's Hospital.
Lorcan's heart condition hasn't stopped him excelling at football – his goalkeeping skills mean he was recently spotted by a Millwall Scout who has offered him a space to train with the Club's Academy. Millwall and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, David Forde, who attended the party, has also invited Lorcan to come and watch the Lions first team train.
Siobhan Plunkett, Lorcan's mother, said "Lorcan's diagnosis and the surgeries that followed were the hardest thing our family ever had to face. Fortunately he is now doing well and able to follow his dreams of a football career – something I would never have thought possible when he was born.
"We are so grateful for the support ECHO have given us over the years, and now Millwall. I'm delighted the club agreed to host the ECHO party again this year and thank them for giving Lorcan this opportunity with the club. Lorcan was over the moon to meet David Forde, it was an amazing experience."
Andy Ambler, Millwall's Chief Executive, said: "I am sure I speak for all the players and fans when I say how much we want to support ECHO. We love what you do for children and families in the local community, being able to bring a day of fun and smiles to the hundreds of children who attended is a privilege and something Millwall are proud to be able to deliver."
Dr Owen Miller, Head of Cardiology at the Evelina London Children's Hospital and ECHO Patron, who opened the event, said: "How lovely it is to see patients and friends outside of the hospital setting - a very rare and welcome opportunity for medical staff at the Evelina London."
Samantha Johnson, Director of Operations at ECHO, said: "The ECHO Christmas party gives us the opportunity to provide a day of festive fun and cheer for children and families who have experienced very difficult times as a result of heart conditions. We're delighted Millwall Football Club were able to support us this Christmas and thank the club and all Millwall fans for their continued support – we are especially excited to be joining the club at a match next year for a game collection."
If you would like to help ECHO support heart children this Christmas there is still time. Join the ECHO Secret Santa club by texting ECHO29 £3 to 70070 – and help them deliver glittering gifts to children staying in the Evelina London Children's Hospital over the Christmas holiday. Feel free to choose your gift: £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.
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