An ambitious fundraising campaign has been launched by Radio Lollipop Southampton for a hi-tech piece of equipment to help cheer up sick children in hospital.

Play leaders say the multi-sensory “LolliTrollie” will be a game-changer when it comes to gaining the attention of young patients and distracting them from their illness.

The equipment costs nearly £12,000 – but Radio Lollipop Southampton is already at the half-way mark thanks to long-time fundraiser Denise Norman.

Denise, who has been involved with the charity since 1990, successfully applied for a £5,000 grant from The Gerald Micklem Charitable Trust, which supports charitable activity in Hampshire and West Sussex.

Back in the summer, she raised a further £1,000 herself towards the LolliTrollie which allows volunteers to take the radio station to the children’s bedsides.

Denise’s personal contribution came largely from asking friends, family and Radio Lollipop supporters to donate to the appeal rather than buy her a card or gift as she turned 77 in July.

Now the team, who visit youngsters on the children’s wards at Southampton General Hospital, are hoping families, individuals and businesses will rally round to help muster up the remaining £6,000.

Bubbles, disco lights, fibre optics, a balloon pump and karaoke gear are among features on the fully loaded trolley, described as the latest innovation in play technology.

For Southampton, the equipment is particularly needed as the Radio Lollipop team is currently unable to broadcast on the wards following hospital renovation work.

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Tina Jones, Radio Lollipop Southampton Trustee, said: “After an enforced break caused by the covid pandemic, we are back with an enthusiastic new team and are going from strength to strength.

“We have lots of exciting plans for the future – including the purchase of our very own LolliTrollie, which is a bit like a mini radio station on wheels, allowing us to take the magic to where it is needed most.”

The hi-tech music machine, designed by Radio Lollipop founder Hedley Finn OBE, also features sensory equipment for deaf and blind children to ensure no-one misses out.

Each one is handmade especially for Radio Lollipop by experts at Shepperton Film Studios.

Denise said: “A LolliTrollie would be the perfect boost for Radio Lollipop Southampton as the station moves forward.

“They are already an amazing bunch, and this piece of equipment would give their visits a real wow factor.”

Since its launch in 1994, Radio Lollipop Southampton has supported tens of thousands of sick children, providing music and play at a time when many youngsters can feel vulnerable and frightened.

Based on the healing power of play, the team visits youngsters on the children’s wards two evenings a week, equipped with toys, games, colouring and crafts.