Maddie Tippett inspires Hunter Hearts fundraiser | PHOTOS | VIDEO

WHILE many may celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers, wine and chocolate, local mother Kerryn “Kez” Tippett hopes the Hunter will embrace a noble opportunity for a public display of affection.

Ms Tippett is encouraging people to buy and affix a love-heart shaped padlock to a “giant” metal heart at 48 Watt Street, Newcastle, on Tuesday in a bid to raise money for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

The Hunter Hearts campaign, which has so far raised more than $9,000, was inspired by the tragic loss of Ms Tippett’s daughter, internet sensation Maddie Tippett.

After contracting two strands of the common cold, Maddie tragically died from heart complications on February 18, 2014. She would have been six this year.

Maddie's original video

Ms Tippett said while their experience at John Hunter Children’s Hospital was a tragic one, they would be eternally grateful to the staff.

“What happened was going to happen,” Ms Tippett said. “As much as it ended in a bad way, it could’ve been so much worse. The staff were truly amazing.

“My experience was that they absolutely care, and they are doing absolutely everything they can to help.

“We don’t mind waiting in a hospital for four hours or six hours or however long, because we know we’re waiting because someone else needs more attention.”

Every cent raised would go towards the hospital in the hope the support might prevent another family from losing a loved one.

“This won’t be the end of it. I’m just going to keep going,” Ms Tippett said.

The fundraiser was inspired by people fixing padlocks to bridges all over the world – in Paris in particular – as a symbol of their love.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place people could do that?’

“Unfortunately this won’t be a permanent fixture, but people can do the gesture, get it out of their system – do a nice thing for their partner on Valentine’s Day, and it’s all for a great cause.

“If someone wants to propose in front of it, go for it,” Ms Tippett said.

Pat Marks, the acting executive director of Children, Young People & Families for the Hunter New England Local Health District, said the Tippetts’ support had been “extraordinary”.

“To hear and see the Tippetts so passionately advocating and raising funds for our services means a lot to our staff, who with the loss of any child are deeply impacted by rare outcomes such as Maddie’s,” Ms Marks said.

“It brings us great joy to see the Tippetts using the power of love to improve the great services we have here at the children’s hospital.”

Buy a “lovelock” for $25 via hunterhearts.com.au, or pop in to 48 Watt Street between 7 and 11am.

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