Every December, during what is often an isolating and difficult time, Richard “Santa” Cottingham is spotted around The Royal dressed head-to-toe in red and white, spreading joy and hope to patients, staff, volunteers, and visitors.
Richard is one of The Royal's many long-serving volunteers. His volunteer journey began amidst decades of navigating the mental health care system and a lifetime of living with mental illness.
He grew up in England in the 50s, when conversations about mental health were rare. His struggles with mental health started young and continued throughout his move to Ottawa, his career in Canadian Armed Forces, and his role as a husband and father.
After many years of receiving countless treatments, Richard started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the first time.
"Christmas was a difficult time for me for many years, marked by the loss of my grandmother. Now, Christmas is wonderful. I can feel like a kid again and share that excitement with the patients at The Royal."
This giving season, The Royal has launched a new gifting program, Mindfull Gifts. By purchasing a Gift of Hope Package, you can join Richard in inspiring hope for patients at The Royal.
In October, Anita Manley, a client representative on The Royal’s board of trustees, hosted the annual Ottawa Blues for Youth event. The evening’s attendees and sponsors danced the night away in support of research and care at The Royal. Thank you to all the incredible community members and organizations who hosted events in support of The Royal throughout the year.
If you’re worried about managing your mental health during this busy time of year, The Royal’s mental health experts can help you navigate five common challenges: managing expectations, financial stress, lack of self-care, overindulgence, and loneliness. Remember to be kind to yourself and take care of your mental health this holiday season!