As a child I spent a significant period in hospital due to my struggle with TB and can empathise with what the children are going through.

BYLINE: Nazim Ali

(Left to Right): Mohammed Azeem (Friend of Airedale Hospital), Karen Reece (Play Leader, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust) and Nazim Ali (Creating Smiles Gifts Initiative Co-ordinator)

“It was a great honour, for which I’m profoundly humbled to have arranged the 11th annual ‘Creating Smiles Gifts Initiative to celebrate one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.

The 27th Rajab in the Islamic calendar is when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) travelled from Makkah to Jerusalem, and from there to the seven heavens to met God.

I dedicate this gift giving to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as he is loved and revered by the world’s almost two-billion Muslims as well as British Muslims like myself.

Our prophet has inspired, through his life and teachings, British Muslims like myself to engage in civic renewal which I have done proactively and steadfastly for 25 years. They taught me irrespective of faith or ethnicity to help others.

I express my gratitude to my sponsors at Saveco Cash and Carry for their kind and selfless on-going support. They have been the main sponsors for the five-times a year ‘Creating Smiles Gifts Initiative (supporting both Airedale and Bradford Royal Infirmary Children’s Wards), which has been running for 11 years now. 

My dear friend Mohammed Azeem (Friend of Airedale Hospital), once more accompanied me to Airedale Hospital as well as helping me in selecting and purchasing the gifts.

He spent 61-days in hospital of which 41 were in a coma as he successfully battled against Covid-19. Thankfully he made a full recovery.

Prior to Covid-19 he successfully battled against cancer.

Mohammed Azeem said: “It was a great honour to have been once more been asked to attend with my friend Nazim Ali who never stops helping others and to support the excellent work of the caring staff in the NHS which I have had first hand experience of.”

We were determined to carry this initiative on to spread goodness and positivity as we did during the Covid-19 period. It will be a stressful time for parents to have children in hospital.

We dropped off 30 Gifts (for poorly children ranging from 0 – 16 years) at the Children’s Ward 17 of Airedale Hospital.

The diverse range of gifts included cuddly toys, play sets, babies toys and so forth with a mixture for boys and girls. It was a gesture of kindness and to show that members of the wider community do care and think about them (poorly children) and ultimately uplift their spirits.

Overall it is the 35th gifts giving to hospital children’s wards in the last 11 years.

The gifts are for all children in the ward irrespective of faith. The essence of the Islamic celebration of 27th Rajab is of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his life’s teachings has the universal concept of kindness and compassion to all particularly those in need. It is these values that bring all people together regardless of belief and we hope we have achieved this at some level. We realise this is a period of reflection for Muslims.

However, it is also a period where we should reflect and support the most vulnerable in society. To this end we felt the need to make a proactive difference especially during this particularly difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As a child I spent a significant period in hospital due to my struggle with TB and can empathise with what the children are going through. To date thousands of pounds worth of gifts have been distributed from my now 35 visits to Children’s Wards to Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale Hospital Childrens Ward and those hundreds of smiles of innocent poorly children has certainly enriched me and humbled me.”

Laura Hepworth (Community Fundraiser at Airedale Hospital and Community Charity) said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to Nazim, Azeem and Saveco Cash and Carry for their continued support of our children’s unit. These gifts will be hugely appreciated by the children and families on the unit.”