A new initiative conceived by the chaplaincy team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) is set to lift spirits of children, families and medical staff at the world renowned children’s hospital this Easter.
Ten eggs, currently laying in incubators in the hospital chapel under the careful watch of both chaplains and expectant children, are due to hatch on Maundy Thursday, 18 April, exemplifying the fresh hope and new beginnings of Easter.
Anticipation around the hospital is building ahead of the hatching of the fertilised eggs, which were donated by Chickens of Brum.
Throughout Holy week and Easter week, Ruth Radley, the project leader and honorary chaplain, has organised a programme of events designed to keep the children engaged, including egg cup painting, a choir visit, and, following the hatching, a chick naming party, egg hunt and a tour of the wards so that every child has a chance to see the chicks.
As well as lifting spirits and putting a smile on their faces, the chaplaincy team hope that the new born chicks will provide a welcome diversion for the children, many of whom are seriously ill and have spent long periods in hospital.
Organisers hope that some of the children will be on hand to see the moment the chicks actually hatch, so they can experience this special moment and be the first to touch and hold the new born chicks.
Staff will also take the opportunity, if an egg does not hatch or a chick is too weak to survive, to explore difficult subjects such as disappointment, sadness and even death, which unfortunately is commonplace for many of the families visiting the wards.
The Rev Paul Nash, senior chaplain at BCH, explained that when the hospital ran a similar project in 2018, chaplains and the medical staff were overwhelmed by people’s response. He said, “Children, families and medical staff, all testified to the calmness, peace and hope, that this simple scene of new life exuded”.
One parent who realised he’d never actually seen eggs hatch before, said this was “a beautiful environment”, while a mother reflected that the chicks had “brought a sense of calm”.
A member of the medical staff observed that “being able to see and touch the animals was a great source of therapy for the children”.
Ruth Radley (seen in the video above) is seconded to the chaplaincy team at BCH, from Church Mission Society where she serves as a mission partner.
She said: “Before coming to Birmingham I spent six years in South Sudan but I returned to the UK burnt out and suffering from clinical depression.
“The commitment and care I’ve seen daily, both through this project and working with the chaplaincy team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, has acted as a powerful medicine in my recovery.”
See the Birmingham Children’s Hospital website for more information about the Easter Chicks or search #BCHChickWatch.