DOWNEND’S latest post box topper is helping to raise funds for a charity inspired by a young girl who lost her life to cancer.
The knitted and crocheted celebration of characters from Raymond Briggs’ classic Christmas tale The Snowman, outside Downend Post Office, has been created by members of the Knit and Natter group based at nearby shop Fabrics Plus.
It is raising money through a QR code and web link for charity Raeyah’s Hands of Support, set up by the family of Emersons Green girl Raeyah Evans-Rice.
Raeyah was just four years old when she died in March from a rare form of cancer, known as a Wilms tumour.
While she was undergoing treatment her parents Becky Evans and Kevin Rice decided to set up a service to help other parents going through a similar experience.
Becky and Kevin, who now live in Soundwell, said: “Raeyah was a happy, outgoing little girl who adored her older brothers.
“Raeyah managed her intense chemotherapy treatment extremely well and was given the all clear in December 2022, exactly a year after we received the devastating news of her illness.
“However, just four weeks later she became unwell and passed away in hospital, surrounded by the love of her family.”
Now a registered charity, Raeyah’s Hands of Support provides practical and financial support for families with children undergoing cancer treatment at Bristol Children’s Hospital, especially those with an autism diagnosis.
It offers food vouchers, entertainment bags with things for children to do, bags with seasonal treats for Christmas and Easter, and overnight bags for parents whose children have to make an unexpected stay in hospital.
Becky said: “Quite often you take your child in for an appointment and you think you’re going home afterwards but end up having to stay over, so we provide hospitals with bags they can give out on the spot, with things you’re unlikely to be able to get at short notice, like tea, coffee and hairbrushes.
“When you’ve got a child who’s having cancer treatment, autism is the least of your worries, but they need more support – for example they can get anxious when they have injections.”
One of Becky and Kevin’s sons, Mason, has autism spectrum disorder and from their experience they believe Raeyah, who had a “unique and unbreakable” bond with him, was also autistic.
Raeyah’s Hands of Support currently operates only in Bristol but there are plans to link up with charities in other areas, with a view to providing a national service one day.
Becky and her mum Pat Evans, of Downend, who is also involved with the charity, were there to see the postbox topper unveiled at the beginning of December.
Pat said: “It’s absolutely amazing – I take my hat off to them, they’ve done a wonderful thing, a marvellous job.”
The Knit and Natter group meets at Fabrics Plus on Badminton Road every week.
Members started work on the topper in September, doing some of the work in the shop and some at home.
It includes the Snowman and the Snowdog, James – the boy from the original Snowman film – robins and snowballs.
The topper was designed by Suzzie Belcher, who said making it used 10 balls of white wool from Fabrics Plus as well as coloured wool from the shop and members’ “stashes”.
Suzzie said: “We hope people like it and it gives the children the charity helps a lift – that’s the reason we did it.”
An information panel with a QR code for smartphone donations is attached to the topper.
Donations can also be made to the charity via its website at Raeyahshandsofsupport.org.uk.