Calling Team Bradford – get set to Sparkle for Axl this Christmas!

BRADFORD Hospitals’ Charity is calling on people across our city to don something sparkly and donate money to fund toys and play equipment for young hospital patients.

The Sparkle for Axl Day will be held on Friday 13 December, in memory of Axl Walker, who was a much-loved patient at Bradford Royal Infirmary and who died last year, three days before his third birthday.

Staff across Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will wear something sparkly and trim up their wards and offices with sparkly decorations to raise money. Businesses, schools and organisations across the city are also urged to sign up to spread some ‘Sparkle for Axl’ and raise money for distraction toys and play equipment for young patients treated in hospital throughout the year.

This year, Bradford City Football Club has thrown its support behind the Sparkle for Axl campaign with a pledge to make the Utilita Energy Stadium sparkle at its big home game against Salford City on Saturday 21 December. Axl’s older brother, Lucas, will walk out with the team as mascot to a sparkling crowd holding their phone torches aloft.

Lucas, who is a keen Bradford City fan, met with Bradford City goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell to help launch the appeal (see photo).

Karen Dawber, Chief Nurse at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said: “Anyone who has been in hospital with their poorly child knows how vital toys are to distract them from pain, fear and distress.

“Our staff do everything they can to make diagnostic tests and treatment less scary, but it makes the world of difference for them to have toys, games, books, sensory items and specialist play equipment for children of all ages and abilities. The money we raise during our Sparkle for Axl appeal enables departments and wards across our hospitals to purchase toys tailored to their patients, all year round.”

Hayley Collis, Head of Fundraising for Bradford Hospitals’ Charity, said: “This is a fun Christmas fundraising appeal in memory of a very special little boy.

Melted hearts

“Axl melted the hearts of all our staff who cared for him and it means a lot to us that we can provide toys to future patients in his memory. We are really excited to see everyone sparkle on Friday 13 December, but it will also be very poignant for us, as we remember Axl.

“Please do what you can to sparkle – whether it’s wearing a sparkly top, socks or even sparkly earrings – we can’t wait to see Bradford sparkle!”

Claire Walker, Axl’s mum, said: “This means a lot to our family to keep Axl’s memory alive and to raise money to help other children in hospital.

“Toys make such a big difference when a child is being treated. I saw this with both Axl and his brother, Lucas, when they were in hospital. If you can calm them down, the doctors and nurses can treat them easier and quicker.”

Axl suffered from a rare blood disorder which meant he needed monthly blood transfusions and two bone marrow transplants. He spent a great deal of time in the Children and Young People’s Unit and Day Case Unit on Ward 2 at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Claire added: “We would love to see the Sparkle for Axl charity day become an annual Christmas fundraising event in Bradford, with everyone supporting their local NHS charity and children in their home city.”

Ryan Sparks, Director of Communications for Bradford City, said: “We are proud to be working with the Bradford Hospitals’ Charity, as one of our official charity partners for this season.

“As part of this season’s initiative, we are able to support the Sparkle for Axl campaign and the fantastic work the initiative does to help bring joy to youngsters all year round.”

For more information about our Sparkle for Axl campaign, please visit, where you can also register your interest in taking part. To make a donation to the appeal, visit

Please make sure you tag Bradford Hospitals’ Charity (Twitter: @BTHFTcharity) and Bradford Teaching Hospitals (Twitter: @BTHFT) in any social media posts, using the hashtag #Sparkle4Axl.

To find out more about Bradford Hospitals’ Charity and how you can support your local hospitals, visit Alternatively, contact Hayley Collis or Elaine Drake on 01274 274809 or email



Note to editors

About Bradford Hospitals’ Charity

  • Bradford Hospitals’ Charity is one of more than 250 NHS charities in the UK. It supports the strategic direction of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by funding projects which go over and above what he NHS provides.
  • Did you know that, together, all NHS charities give £1million every single day to the NHS!
  • In 2017, a new £28million wing opened at Bradford Royal Infirmary, which was part of a £75m investment to improve patient care across our hospitals. It provides world-class facilities for the elderly, children and a brand new intensive care unit. Bradford Hospitals’ Charity provided £260,000 to enable the Trust to create family friendly environments, state-of-the-art equipment and innovative distraction toys and games for young people.
  • With the support of Bradford Hospitals’ Charity, BTHFT was also able to provide more cots, including intensive care and high dependency cots, new family accommodation, a revamped counselling suite and a dedicated room for mothers to express milk for pre-term babies when the new neonatal unit opened in 2015.

For further media information, please contact Kelly Thornham, Communications Officer, at or call 01274 382265

Twitter: @BTHFTCharity                Facebook: bradfordhospitalscharity Instagram:bradfordhospitalscharity LinkedIn:


  1. Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing hospital services for the people of Bradford and communities across Yorkshire. We serve a core population of around 500,000 and provide specialist services for 1.1 million people.

Our 5,500 staff work over several sites, including Bradford Royal Infirmary, which provides the majority of inpatient services, and St Luke’s Hospital, which predominantly provides outpatient and rehabilitation services. We also manage local community hospitals at Westwood Park, Westbourne Green, and Eccleshill.

In early 2017, a new £28 million wing opened at Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of a £75m investment to improve patient care across our hospitals over a five-year period. It provides world-class facilities for elderly care, children’s services, a state-of-the-art intensive care unit with increased single-room provision and a retail concourse.

The new wing is a continuation of our work to improve patient experience after our new £2 million neonatal unit officially opened in January 2015. Our maternity services were recently shortlisted for the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) Midwifery Service of the Year Award, recognising excellence and innovation in the provision of maternity care.

In 2017, we also completed a £2m refurbishment of our Emergency Department (ED) as part of an ambitious vision to create a more efficient acute medicine service for the people of Bradford. It has been designed to provide a slicker and more efficient service, with faster senior clinical involvement at an early stage in the patient pathway.

As a teaching hospital, we are at the forefront of education and development in healthcare, and have an excellent reputation for research performance. We are one of the leading centres in conducting applied research in the country, particularly in quality and safety, elderly care and rehabilitation.

The Trust is home to the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) where researchers have led the development, validation and implementation of the award-winning Bradford Electronic Frailty Index (eFI) which helps calculate an elderly person’s risk of disability, impairment, falls and complications of chronic diseases, as well as their diminishing independence and capability. This is now being used by 98% of all GPs across the country.

Our award-winning Ophthalmology department is home to numerous worldwide clinical trials taking the lead in eye care research and we are one of only three sites in the United Kingdom to be enlisted in the Perioperative Enhanced Recovery Hip Fracture Care of Patients with Dementia (PERFECTED) study, which will investigate how the NHS can introduce better standards of care to improve outcomes for people with dementia.

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