AS a regular visitor to Southampton General Hospital, mum Diane Pratt knows the benefit of a humble cuppa.

The 42-year-old has spent many anxious hours waiting on the children's cardiac ward, where her ten-year-old daughter Victoria has undergone numerous operations for a terminal heart condition.

It was while there that Diane noticed a serious shortage - not of beds or equipment, but of cups.

Now, as Victoria prepares to undergo further surgery, Diane has launched an appeal which will help patients, doctors, nurses and visitors alike.

She is urging people to donate any unwanted cups to the children's cardiac ward, and has set up three collection points across Southampton.

Diane, of Totton, said: "My daughter is about to go on to a heart ward for an operation, so we have been popping in there for the past couple of weeks.

"You can't help but notice the shortage of cups. I tend to drink a lot while I'm there, but there are never any cups to use and many of them are old and cracked.

"You hear of lots of people donating toys or helping to buy equipment but it is also the basic things like cups that are needed."

Diane added: "Most people have got mugs at home that they don't use, or they could go out and buy one for 50p, which is not much more than the price of a chocolate bar.

"This is a simple way that people can help make a big difference to the ward."

Diane wants to collect as many cups and mugs as possible, and hopes to be able to donate some to other wards in the hospital, depending on the public's response.


The Players Rest bar, West Totton Centre, Hazel Farm Road, Totton

Michael Rhodes estate agents, Salisbury Road, Totton

Dee Cee Upholstery, Portswood Road, Portswood.