Music helps Starship

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 07:58 06/06/2012
Campbell
EMMA WHITTAKER
GIVING BACK: Former Starship patient Campbell MacKenzie is a regular performer at the hospital's on-site radio station, Radio Lollipop, which is turning 20 this year.

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Cempbell Mackenzie hopes his songs can bring some relief to sick kids in Starship children's hospital.

The 12-year-old musician is a regular performer at the hospital's on-site radio station, Radio Lollipop, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Radio Lollipop got started to help children through the often tedious hours of 6pm to 8pm after visitors have gone home but sleep is still a few hours away.

As well as being a part-time radio station, volunteers visit wards and help entertain patients by playing games with them.

The station is yet to be broadcast to other hospitals but volunteers also visit Kidz First Middlemore, Whangarei Hospital and will soon be at Waitakere Hospital.

The MacKenzie family has supported Starship since Campbell was a patient there as a baby. He was born with a tracheoesophageal fistula which stopped him from eating.

"Basically his ear and food tubes were mixed up," his father Blair says. "At two days old they literally sliced him in half and re-plumbed him."

The Mt Eden schoolboy hasn't suffered any lasting effects from the life-threatening condition and is a keen singer, songwriter and guitar player. At the moment he is hard at work rehearsing with his band Undercover Rock that has made it into the Auckland regional finals of the Smokefreerockquest.

At 8 he decided it was time to give something back to the hospital that saved him.

Every year since then he has taken to the streets during New Zealand Music Month and busked to raise money for Starship.

In four years he has raised around $2500. It was on a trip to deliver one of his donations that he first got involved with Radio Lollipop.

"It really nice to be able to go and play for the kids up on the wards. Hopefully when they listen to my music they will forget they are in hospital and concentrate on the music so much that their pain goes away. It's a kind of musical pain reliever."

Campbell says, as well as being rewarding, playing at Radio Lollipop has also given him some exciting opportunities.

On one visit he got to sing along with Kiwi band The Babysitters Circus when they performed the song Everything's Gonna Be All Right.

Radio Lollipop chairwoman Lorraine Andrewes says Campbell's contribution and that of the 120 volunteers who keep the charity ticking over is invaluable.

But more help is needed, especially in South Auckland, Whangarei and Waitakere.

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"We need more volunteers because what we provide is all about connection – a one-on-one connection with a child and the ability to make a real difference to what is sometimes a very traumatic experience."

Volunteers need to be available once a week for three to four hours.

Visit radiolollipop.org for more information.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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