Charity Profile: Rockinghorse Children’s Charity

At Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, the aim is to improve the lives of sick children throughout Sussex. Rockinghorse is the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) where they raise money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment, while ensuring that children are treated in an environment better suited to their needs. Rockinghorse also supports the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and its sister site, the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

Their guiding ethos, their mission statement, is: We believe no matter where they are, children should always be allowed to be children.


Working in partnership with the Alex, TMBU and SCBU, Rockinghorse strives to make services stimulating, cutting edge, and accessible for the many babies, children, and teenagers who need them. They do not receive any government funding and so they rely on the generous support of individuals, community groups, companies and trusts; people like you.

Recently, we asked Rockinghorse’s chief executive Ryan Heal and their head of fundraising, Analiese Doctrove, to give us an insight about the charity and what drives them to do what they do.

At Rockinghorse we aim to make life better for sick children in Sussex by fundraising for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment, and the services needed to support paediatric centres such as the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) and the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) in Brighton as well as the Special Care Baby Unit based at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

As well as specialist medical equipment, we also provide funding to help ensure that children are treated in an environment better suited to their needs – for example, toys, games and sensory items. Our support helps ensure that children in Sussex receive the very best medical care as well as improving the overall hospital experience for poorly children and their families.


It’s difficult to put a figure on how many children have received help through equipment and items we have funded, but what we do know is that over 45,000 young patients are treated at the Alex every year, most of them coming in to contact with equipment and services funded by Rockinghorse.

We aim to raise around £500,000 every year in order to provide equipment and services at the Alex, TMBU and SCBU in addition to what the NHS will fund. Consultants seek funding from Rockinghorse for projects they recognise would create a better environment for children to be treated in, while at the same time helping to save lives.

Rockinghorse relies on the generosity of individuals, community groups, companies and trusts to help raise funds. We have a team of four fundraisers who work with local businesses, schools, community groups and individuals on fundraising initiatives and events. We hold a number of key charity events in Sussex each year, such as our Mid Summer Ball, Best of British sporting lunch and Dress as an Elf day that supporters can get involved in to help us raise funds. Many of our supporters will also hold their own events of which we are the chosen beneficiary. Our next event is a Halloween quiz which takes place in the Palm Court Restaurant on Brighton Pier on Thursday 29th October – details can be found on our website here:

Volunteers are hugely important to us – without them, we simply wouldn’t be able to get involved in many of the local events we aim to attend. For example, we were involved in the recent Children’s Food Festival on Hove Lawns where we had a stall of activities such as cupcake decorating, a drawing competition and arts and crafts, which children and their parents could take part in for a small donation. Volunteers supported us over the Bank Holiday weekend by helping children with the activities, as well as being a visual presence for Rockinghorse by wearing our charity t-shirt.


Volunteers also help us with street collections and charity raffles, tombola’s and auctions at events.

Children should always be children is the ethos behind Rockinghorse. It’s part of what makes them recover more quickly. Going into hospital can be a bewildering and unsettling experience for a child and we strive to make the experience less daunting by not only providing toys and games to distract patients from painful treatment, but also providing areas of therapeutic rest and play both inside and outside of the hospital environment.

In May this year, we opened a Sensory Garden for young patients and their families at the Alex. This outdoor area includes sensory equipment to help promote social and developmental as well as providing a quiet and reflective space. We also recently funded two new electric cars for the Surgical Ward at the Alex which are used by young patients who are waiting for an operation and may be suffering from pre-operative anxiety. These cars can be driven by the children down to theatre and helps make their experience more enjoyable.

We are currently raising funds to provide extra cardiac monitors for the Children’s Emergency Department at the Alex, as well as fundraising to build a brand new sensory room to be located in the Play Department within the children’s hospital. We also have a dedicated fundraising campaign for SCBU and TMBU underway where we are planning to refurbish the parent rooms and provide more specialist incubators.

We are privileged to receive dedicated support from the people and businesses of Sussex and we see ourselves as very much a ‘community’ charity which serves local children and their families. We hope readers feel inspired to help us continue our work to make life better for sick children in Sussex.
01273 330044

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