Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Connected Santa 2015 comes to a close

December 15, 2015

Terry Espiner Elfiner, Client Director, Healthcare, Cisco UKI

We celebrated the tenth anniversary of Cisco’s Connected Santa last week.

Once again, Santa’s helpers were extremely busy clocking up the miles as the team enabled a visit from the Big Man to 13 hospitals across the UK & Ireland.

For Santa the week was a little less stressful than the usual Christmas Eve. Thanks to Cisco’s TelePresence video conferencing solutions and cloud-based collaboration application, Spark he could remain in Lapland supervising his Elves ahead of the big rush next week…..that will be a relief for all of you, I know!

For my own part I took part in the event at Cardiff. Around 20 Elves and Mrs Claus were on hand to welcome a large number of children into the ‘virtual Santa’s Grotto’. An extremely efficient process saw the children first kept busy with a mix of games, colouring competitions and conversation.

The children were then whisked away to see a second group of Elves in an adjoining room. In a covert operation that would have been worthy of the Security Intelligence Services Team, crucial background information was teased from the children and relayed via Cisco Spark to Santa back in Lapland (aka Bedfont Lakes).

Thereafter the children were taken along to Santa’s Virtual Grotto and introduced to the Big Man himself. With impeccable efficiency the nursing staff  and children’s ward supervisors had wrapped and tagged dozens of presents so that an appropriate present could be given to each child at the end of their visit.

Children and parents alike absolutely loved the experience. Some of the children were actually waiting to be taken down to theatre later that day so I’m sure that their parents will have appreciated the distraction at what must have been the most stressful of times.

But  Lapland, we have a problem! Some of these children are simply too poorly to leave their beds and make it down to Santa’s Grotto. What to do?

Fear not. The technical wizards on hand from Cisco mobilised a small working party which included Mrs Claus and five elves and set off for the wards. Ninety minutes later a further 20 or so children had been visited at their bedside by Santa courtesy of the Trust’s impeccable wireless network (yes, it’s a Cisco network!) and Cisco Jabber enabled Tablet device.

Another dozen or so elves set off for the children’s outpatient department to spread merriment and joy to those waiting for their appointment. For 60 minutes chaos descended as Jingle Bells rang out. A further quick visit to the Children’s Assessment Unit spread yet more Christmas cheer to a number of children waiting for their turn with the doctor.

What stood out for me was the seamless team work between Cisco and NHS folk. I actually found myself speaking to what I believed to be an NHS person and discovering that in actual fact it was a Cisco colleague that I’d never come across.

Speaking to the rest of the Cisco Healthcare Team it is apparent that at all 13  hospitals experienced a huge success. Some had local media coverage, some have posted details on their Trust websites and the social media airwaves were close to meltdown…..

From the CSR Team who pull all of this together, to every employee who donated money to buy presents for the event, to my Account Managers who work with the CSR Team in order to secure the support of the various hospitals, to the team of technical ‘wizards’ who just ‘pitch up’ and make it all work………….it is a pleasure to be a part of such a fantastic initiative. A huge thank you to all of you!

We do have one problem though. Just about every Trust that we visited has asked to repeat the event next year. So we’re going to be very challenged in our efforts to rotate the visits in order to give as many NHS Trusts as possible a visit.

But Connected Santa is all about making Christmas dreams come true….

Ho ho ho..

In case you missed our Facebook and Instagram snaps, we’ve packaged the best of this year’s Connected Santa for you! 

Frimley 2

Santa in his Grotto ready to meet all the poorly kids in hospital’s via Cisco’s Telepresence Video conferencing solution


Santa visiting the kids in St Bart’s hospital 

Bristol 2

Bristol 3

A couple of Santa’s elves at the University of Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Derby 3

Derby 1

Santa and his elves visiting Derby Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 


 Just wheeling Santa in to say hello the kids in Dublin


Mrs Clause and Santa’s best elves in Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust

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