Carollers share cheer with patients
The corridors of Palmerston North Hospital feel warmer and brighter after Christmas carollers chimed joy and blessings throughout the wards.
About 80 carollers and accordion players - including staff, families and local church members - spent yesterday evening entertaining patients with festive favourites.
The annual event saw beds empty, smiles from ear to ear, and patients enjoying the Christmas spirit while receiving treatment.
Co-ordinating chaplain Sande Ramage said the well-established tradition of carol singing at the hospital had been going since the days of Florence Nightingale.
"It started when nurses wore red capes and carried candles, so it's an ancient tradition," she said.
"But we don't carry candles or wear red capes any more, so we just sing."
Mrs Ramage said she loved this part of her job and getting dressed up for the occasion was just part of the fun.
"How often do you get to dress up in angel wings and a halo? It's great seeing the patients' faces as we go through the hospital, because the Christmas story is universal - how goodness is born into the world, and it appeals to everyone."
Patient Peter Smith said it was wonderful to hear the carols.
"It reminds me that Christmas is a very wonderful, joyous time and it's not being commercialised, " he said.
"They are very brave to go out there and sing and they do it wonderfully."
Patient Jeanine Bryenton said the carollers perked up everyone on the ward.
"I'm not even thinking about Christmas yet so it puts me in the spirit," she said.
Palmerston North Hospital eye clinic nurse Hillary Blackwel brought her daughter and two granddaughters to sing through the wards.
"I used to do it when I was training as a student here about four or five years ago, and it was sort of compulsory then," she said.
"After that I just kept doing it because I loved it.
"The patients love seeing the children too - I've always brought one grandchild, this year I've brought the second along."