Get set to sparkle for Axl!

Kelly Thornham News

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 Utilital 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.

“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 at Bradford Royal Infirmary, in the Children and Young People’s Unit and Day Case Unit on Ward 2.

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 in any social media posts (Twitter @BTHFTcharity), 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

Richard O’Donnell, Hayley Collis, Claire Walker and Lucas