'The Royal does strictly' for the children's MRI scanner appeal
Local children and their parents have been speaking about why it is essential to have a Children's MRI Scanner in Belfast - and the huge benefit it would mean to them.
Several local TV personalities have been partnered with medics from the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children for a unique NI take on the popular 'Strictly Come Dancing' TV series.
'The Royal Does Strictly' - which reaches a glamorous, star-studded climax in the grand final at Titanic Belfast on Saturday, November 10 - is aiming to help raise the remaining £1m needed to provide an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scanner dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of sick and injured children in NI.
Over £1m required to provide the much sought after technology has already been banked - and the big drive now is to raise another million pounds which will make the dream a reality.
The new scanner will be located in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children - the only children's hospital in the UK which doesn't yet have its own MRI scanner.
Several local children's charities have joined forces for the appeal - including the Northern Ireland Children's Cancer Unit, Carrickmannon MRI scanner Appeal, the Children's Heartbeat Trust and Helping Hand.
Among the local personalities who have donned their dancing shoes and teamed up with staff from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust are Marc Mallet and Alison Fleming (UTV), Marie-Louise Connolly and Martina Purdy (BBC), Stephen Clements (Citybeat), Kirstie McMurray (Cool FM)
Mark Regan, CEO at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, said: "As a trained radiographer myself I know the benefits the best technology in healthcare can bring.
"Having a bespoke MRI scanner located on a site dedicated to paediatric care will enable safe and swift scanning which is vital in making a tremendous difference to literally thousands of children, not just now but for many years to come."
Sarah Quinlan of the Children's Heartbeat Trust - one of the charities involved - explained: "This is a key event for the Children's MRI Scanner Appeal in 2012 and we are grateful for the support. Everyone can get involved in the appeal, whether it be organising members of your family to come along or if you would like to participate through corporate sponsorship.
"Every single penny will help us ensure that sick children in Northern Ireland receive the best and safest treatment available."
Dr Deirdre McPeake, consultant paediatric neurologist at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, added: "We are delighted that all of these well-known local personalities have joined forces with us to dance for this very worthwhile appeal.
"An MRI scanner will benefit sick or injured children from all over Northern Ireland, allowing us to provide an enhanced service with early diagnosis and treatment in a child-friendly environment."
The main sponsors of the appeal are: Kingsbridge Private Hospital, ASDA, Gilbert Ash and the Merchant Hotel