Wooden names for patients at Monash Children’s Hospital

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Meet Geoffrey, AKA Granddad.

Geoffrey makes wooden names for children at Monash Children’s Hospital and School to allow them to have an identity while they are patients.

So far he has made more than 30 names for patients and said the most rewarding part is seeing the gratitude families express when they receive them.

How did ‘Toys by Granddad’ begin?
I have been interested in woodwork for some years, but I began making toys about eighteen years ago when our grandson arrived: you know, wooden cars and trucks, etc. My toy-making expanded rapidly when our granddaughter arrived some four years later – a doll’s house, a ride-on horse, a doll’s crib, and so on, and on!

The kids loved them, so I started selling toys at a local craft market – you know, old fashioned wooden toys that don’t need batteries and will last a lifetime. Grandparents loved them! I made a sign- ‘Toys by Granddad’ and they loved that too, so, that’s how the name began, and it stuck!

How did your work with the Monash Children’s Hospital start?
Our daughter is a secondary school teacher and a few years ago did a stint at a school for kids suffering from severe learning difficulties. At the end of her first year, she said she wanted to give the kids a personal gift as appreciation for their efforts. And so the idea of hand-cut wooden names came into being. The kids were so appreciative and positively affected by them that I started thinking of other situations where the names’ emotional value might do some good.

When I read of the imminent beginning of a local specialist children’s hospital at Monash – Bingo! I met with a member of the Monash Health Foundation (Basem Kerbage), who
suggested that the idea could best be applied through the new MCH School.

Since the school opened I’ve made some thirty or so names and have often been with Colin when he hands them to the kids. Colin gives me of the names of children who are likely to be longer-term patients, and I get to work. The names are made free of charge because I didn’t want money to be a factor in who gets them.

What does it mean to you to see these children get so excited about having their own identity while they are a patient?
Clearly, Monash Children’s Hospital and School go out of the way to enhance the positivity of each child’s experience whilst a patient and student. I hope that being given a personal hand-made name helps that effort, albeit in a very small way.

We have three children and two grandchildren of our own, and count our lucky stars that none of them have had health issues. Nor have we as parents had to suffer the pain
and anguish the parents of those kids have had to suffer, and most still do! Frankly, I get quite a buzz by being able to do something for people who have drawn a shorter straw in life than we have.

Staff and family members can purchase their own names as well. How much do you charge and where does the money go?
I will make any name to order and the charge is $20. All the money goes to the MCH School.

Do you make anything else besides names?
Yes, I make a range of timber toys, such as cars, trucks, ride-ons, etc.

What is the most rewarding part of the process?
This will sound altruistic, but I find it very satisfying to be doing something with my time and energy without money as a motivation. Frankly I don’t have a lot of money, but then I don’t really have a lot of other needs either.

Thank you for your generosity Geoffrey!

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