Skye girl meets ICT stars as part of Beards for Bairns appeal

In-patients at the Highland Children’s Unit Lakeisha Lapsley of Alness (left) and Eilidh Smith from Skye with Inverness Caley goalie Owain Fon Williams

In-patients at the Highland Children’s Unit Lakeisha Lapsley of Alness (left) and Eilidh Smith from Skye with Inverness Caley goalie Owain Fôn Williams

A Skye girl, who is being treated in Raigmore Hospital, recently met star players from Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who are downing their razors in support of sick children and their families across the Highlands.

All the money raised from the ‘Beards for Bairns’ challenge will go towards the ‘Archie Highland’ appeal.

Members of the Highland capital squad, Welsh international Owain Fôn Williams, and striker Ali Sutherland, have agreed not to shave for more than a month from Christmas Day, until Burns Night, January 25th. They are encouraging other men from across the Highlands to join them and also take up the ‘Beards for Bairns’ challenge.

Both players took some time out to visit the new state of the art children’s unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness recently. As well as meeting some of the youngsters in the unit they also officially launched the ‘Beards for Bairns’ campaign.

Among the inpatients to meet the duo was 12-year-old Eilidh Smith from Struan in Skye. She said she was over the moon to come face to face with the players and added: “Inverness Caley Thistle is my favourite team so I was delighted to get to meet the players.”

Eilidh has been in the unit since the 26th of November. Her parents, the Reverend Calum Smith of the Free Church Continuing in Struan and his wife Muriel, said the facility in Inverness was fantastic.
Muriel added: “It’s great – it’s so welcoming and airy in the unit. They have beds so we can also stay which is great as it’s quite a distance for us to travel. Eilidh is being looked after so well.”

Goalkeeper Owain Fôn Williams, who himself spent three months in a Welsh children’s unit and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, said the facility was hugely important for the Highlands.

He added: “We have all either got kids or know kids who need to use the unit or may need to at some point so having such a great facility here thanks to Archie Highland is just fantastic.

“For myself having to spend such a long time in hospital I know just how important somewhere like this is for children. It’s thanks to the great care I received at hospital that I was able to carry on with sport and I was able to be a footballer.”

Teammate Ali Sutherland is familiar with the unit as his girlfriend Dawn Cowie is a fundraising assistant with Archie Highland. She has also spent time as an inpatient in the old facility.

Ali added: “It’s a very deserving cause and it’s local. I know all about the good work that Archie Highland does through Dawn. It’s not only children that benefit from the new unit but also their families as it also provides accommodation for them too.

“It’s very welcoming and nice and bright for all the children and families who visit the unit. We are delighted to be able to support Beards for Bairns.”

Ross County Football Club is also supporting the campaign.
All the money raised from the unique challenge will be used to support sick children and their families across the Highlands.

Earlier this year the Highland Children’s Unit was built following a campaign which encouraged individuals, communities, businesses and organisations across the Highlands to help raise £2 million through fundraising.

The 30-bed inpatient area includes a purpose-built, four-bed high dependency unit, a two-bed room for teenagers or patients needing palliative care, drop-down beds for parents and a family room. It also features separate triage and day care areas, an education room, play room and outside play courtyard.

Men who take part in Beards for Bairns are asked to share their pictures and stories on the Archie Highland Twitter page @ArchieHighlands. To get involved, individuals have to pledge a minimum of £10.

To sign up or for more information on Beards for Bairns go to: www.beardsforbairns.org