A little girl with a big heart has put others before herself on her birthday.
Six-year-old Imogen Bower was so moved when she heard about the support a fellow pupil at Berkhamsted Pre-Preparatory School is receiving from The Hospice of St Francis that she decided to show some support of her own.
She used all her birthday money to buy 10 toy elephants for the Hospice’s Children’s Supportive Care Team - whose mascot is an elephant - and donated them all to the Berkhamsted-based charity to comfort children coping with serious illness in the family or the loss of a loved one.
Her mum Karen, from Barncroft Road, Berkhamsted, said: “Imogen has always been very empathetic. Her brother Harry, who’s 14 months older than her, is autistic and because of this, she’s always been especially aware of the need to help people.
“When she heard about how the hospice helps others, including a little girl in her year, the first thing she wanted to do was give them a pet rabbit but when we rang the hospice they explained, quite understandably, that they don’t have the staff to look after a rabbit in the children’s room and of course there are health and safety issues.
“They explained that the children’s supportive care mascot is an elephant because elephants have big listening ears and they never forget, so we agreed that toy elephants would be the perfect substitute.”
At her birthday party recently, the big-hearted schoolgirl asked all her family and friends to give her money instead of presents and she received £220 - half of which she spent on the elephants and the other half she donated to the hospice.
She also handed over a painting, appropriately painted by an elephant at Whipsnade Zoo - accompanied by a photo of the artist in action - which the family won at a fundraising auction last year.
Jo Derry, children’s support co-ordinator at the hospice, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Imogen for showing such kindness and sensitivity for the many children we support who have lost a loved one or are coping with serious illness in the family.
“How sweet that she wanted to give us a pet rabbit because she’s six and that’s what she would have liked, but as elephants are our mascot they really are the next best thing.
“We use animals all the time as a therapeutic tool and the hard plastic elephants will be ideal for use in sand play and animal play in our Noah’s Ark and the soft toys will be given to children who will really appreciate them to take away and tell secrets to, cuddle at night and look after in between supportive sessions with us here at the hospice.
“For someone so young to be so mindful of other children’s needs and to show such thought and sensitivity in her choice of gift is wonderful.”
The photograph of the elephant artist will be framed and displayed on the wall in the hospice’s children’s room next to the painting itself, which being purple, fits perfectly with the hospice’s colours.
The hospice relies on voluntary donations to fund 80% of the £4.8m it costs every year to provide its free care for people facing life-limiting illness across Herts and Bucks and support for their families. To find out more visit http://www.stfrancis.org.uk/