Young pals Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi launch new fundraising appeal for Royal Manchester Children's Hospital rooftop play area
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And “Hughie and Freddie’s Play Appeal” aims to raise £300,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital roof top play area which will benefit the 280,000-plus young patients the hospital sees every year.
The dynamic duo have launched the appeal to completely makeover the play area and they are calling on supporters to help reach the ambitious target. The boys, both huge Clarets fans, are particularly passionate about the project as Hughie is a current patient of the hospital, receiving treatment on the oncology unit for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
‘Hughie and Freddie’s Play Appeal’ has been launched by the friends and the hospital’s own charity. The area is used by thousands of young patients – many of whom may be staying at the hospital for weeks, months or even years – to have some fresh air, time to play and enjoy a welcome break outside.
Hughie (13) who lives in Higham and attends Clitheroe’s Ribblesdale High School, said: “When I was first diagnosed in September 2020 I was in hospital for weeks.
“When I went up to the roof top play area it was the first bit of fresh air I’d had in about five or six weeks. I wasn’t well enough to leave the hospital, so it was such a nice feeling being outside again but knowing I was safe and still in the hospital.”
Twelve-year-old Freddie also understands the importance of getting time to stretch your legs. He said: “I can’t imagine what it is like to not go outside for a long time. The roof top play area is great for children who want to get some space outside and do activities they can’t necessarily do on the ward.”
The duo’s fundraising for the charity started when Hughie was first diagnosed with leukaemia and Freddie, who lives in Whalley, wanted to do something to help. He started by running 2km every day in the 50 days leading up to Christmas Day 2020.
Since then, their story has attracted attention across the UK and even bagged them a Pride of Britain Award and British Citizen Youth Award. They’ve been interviewed on This Morning, BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain and met some of their celebrity heroes including Paddy McGuinness, Carol Vorderman and Mo Farah.
Although Hughie is still under treatment, he is now well enough to join Freddie with his fundraising, so the boys do events together, including a new challenge they’ve set themselves to run 1km round each Premier League and English Football League Club.
To date, they’ve raised almost £300,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital which has supported a number of projects around the hospital. This includes slushies for children on the oncology ward, to help soothe mouth ulcers and other side effects of chemotherapy, music therapy and a refurbishment of the TeenZone. The £300,000 needed for the play area will enable the hospital to completely overhaul the area.
From the moment patients step outside they’ll be greeted with a play area designed to be accessible to all children, including those who have a range of access needs. They’ll be able to move around, practice their physiotherapy exercises or just relax and enjoy being outside.
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