Matti is a cheeky and clever little six-year-old boy who loves to laugh and play. He loves dinosaurs, Legos and spending time with his older brother and sister. Matti also lives with a rare genetic disorder that has meant much of his short life has been spent in and out of hospital.

Spending so much time in hospital can be very distressing and overwhelming for Matti, which causes his mum Marjorie to worry as well. Being able to play and enjoy  being his bubbly self is essential for Matti, and the need for fun is often heightened when he is undergoing blood tests or spending long, boring days away from his siblings. Fortunately, Play Specialists have been there to support and care for Matti and his family throughout his hospital experiences, and ensure play is at the centre of Matti’s care.

It’s important that he is able to continue to do things like normal children can do, normal everyday things especially playing. The play is more important to the 6 year-old than their health care. It also means he is happier so I can focus on the health side of things.

Marjorie, Matti's mum

Throughout his numerous trips to hospital, Matti and his mum Marjorie have been supported by Play Specialists. But Matti is always most excited to see and play with Tonya Webber, this year’s winner of Starlight’s Power of Play Award.

Whether it’s making dinosaur masks, filling syringes with water to squirt at unsuspecting Play Specialists, or doing arts and crafts, Tonya focuses on what will bring a smile to Matti’s face.

This ability to make Matti smile and laugh and more like his bubbly-self will be vital as Matti prepares for and recovers from his upcoming kidney transplant. Due to his genetic disorder, Matti has required a kidney transplant for most of his life. His mum, Marjorie, will be donating her kidney to Matti.

Following the procedure, Matti will spend several months recovering at Southampton Hospital. With long, boring days in Matti and his mum’s future, having the support of Play Specialists like Tonya will be more important than ever.

Having that person there who won’t do horrible things to him and is meant to bring fun means the world to him and to us.

Marjorie

Right now, there are seriously ill children like Matti who go without play resources that can help make their hospital experiences less overwhelming. This Christmas, Starlight is aiming to deliver toys, books, arts and crafts and immersive entertainment to 300 hospitals who currently lack our resources.

Learn how we’re aiming to deliver play to these children who need it most as part of our #TimeToPlay campaign. Your donations could help us make a difference to the seriously ill children who need us most.