Published: 16/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5936 Page 33

Done the Christmas pantos for patients?

Want to do something a bit different?

Well, it might be a bit late for this Christmas but here are a few ideas you may want to pick up on for next year.

Hell's Angels are not best known for their fondness for good causes, so there must be something in the water in the area served by East Kent Hospitals trust.

For the past few years the local branch of the bikers' group has raised money to buy presents for sick children.

In the run-up to the big day they all get on their bikes and rev up to the hospital to hand over the gifts. But one word of warning from trust communications director Jim Murray: latrines. Apparently the arrival of hundreds of bikers puts such pressure on facilities that the organisation has to hire temporary toilets.

Jim's got another idea if that one doesn't quite grab you. Last year the trust rigged up video conferencing in the children's ward to allow Father Christmas in Lapland to chat with the kids. This year they'll get the opportunity to talk to the cast of BBC TV's Byker Grove.

At Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool they are going one step further: the kids will be on TV on Christmas Day.

Boy band McFly dropped in to the oncology unit recently to strut their stuff, chat with the patients and give out presents. To see how good a time was had by all you can tune in on what happened on the Beeb's Dale's Christmas Wishes.

The RAF has also lent a hand. In December it flew in Santa Claus direct to the hospital - it must have been a day off for the reindeers - to hand out presents.

And if that wasn't enough the hospital normally gets visits from Liverpool and Everton footballers. Alder Hey communications manager Suzanne Hughes says the children get 'spoiled rotten'.

Truckloads of presents from wellwishers turn up. There are the usual festivities, such as the best Christmas ward competition and, if the kids are well enough, they can have their Christmas meal with their families in the hospital restaurant. And it is not any old restaurant - It is full of trendy Ikea furniture and was opened by TV chef Loyd Grossman in October. 'It is lovely, ' says Suzanne.