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Manchester Foundation
Trust Charity

Hospital’s Play Appeal Passes Half-Way Line

Hughie and Freddie holding their Salford FC Tshirts
Tuesday 03rd October 2023
  • £300,000 fundraising appeal reaches £167,000 – passing the halfway mark
  • Appeal will see the roof top play area at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital completely revamped and upgraded
  • Best friends Hughie and Freddie launched the appeal together with the hospital’s Charity in August

A FUNDRAISING appeal to improve play facilities for poorly children from across the North West has hit the halfway point after just two months.

Hughie & Freddie’s Play Appeal was launched at the beginning of August to raise £300,000 to revamp the rooftop play area at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The area is vital for inpatients who want to enjoy the outdoors while staying within the safe confines of the hospital.

And after just two months, the appeal has reached a staggering £167,000! Now best friends Hughie and Freddie, who are fronting the campaign, are hoping to encourage more people to support the Play Appeal and take it to the finish line.

On Saturday, they continued their own fundraising challenge with a run around Salford City FC’s Peninsula Stadium when they played at home to Newport County. The boys wanted to raise awareness, and much-needed funds, for the project.

Caption: Hughie and Freddie after their Salford City FC run

Hughie and Freddie ran round the pitch at halftime, in a downpour of rain. But that failed to dampen their spirits and they waved at the cheering crowd as they completed two laps of the pitch.

Angela Rowe, the Charity’s Senior Manager for Community Fundraising, said: “Hitting the halfway mark so early on is great news – people think the £5s and £10s don’t add up, but they do.

“We obviously need everyone to get behind us now and help us reach the remaining £133,000 we need. If Hughie and Freddie have inspired people to take on a fundraising challenge of their own, we’d love to encourage that!

“Whether it’s running like the boys, signing up to an organised event, or arranging your own challenge, we want to hear from people who want to do something fun and support the appeal.

“If fundraising isn’t your thing, you can make a donation on our website instead. All support is greatly appreciated.”

Youngsters Hughie and Freddie were chosen to front the Charity’s campaign as Hughie is currently being treated at the hospital for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Hughie & Freddie’s Play Appeal was launched back in August so the much-loved roof top play area can be given a complete revamp and bring it back to life after 14 years of use.

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, aged 13, said: “I went up to the rooftop as a patient, and I’ve also been back to meet some other children who use it. Everyone loves being up there so much, but it really does need modernising and doing up.”

Hughie Higginson and best friend Freddie Xavi are both avid supporters of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. Their fundraising for the hospital started when Hughie was first diagnosed with leukaemia and Freddie wanted to do something to help. Freddie started by running 2km every day in the 50 days leading up to Christmas Day 2020.

Caption: Hughie and Freddie crossing the finishline on Christmas Day 2020

Freddie, aged 12, said: “When I first started fundraising for the children’s hospital it was during lockdown and I set myself a running challenge. Everyone knows how important it was to get outside during lockdown and the rooftop sort of feels the same to the patients – when you’re on a ward all day, it must be nice to go outside and play.”

Since the boys first started supporting Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity their story has attracted attention from local and national media 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 this new challenge they’ve set themselves to run 1km round each Premier League and English Football League Club.

Caption: An artist's impression of how the new rooftop play area could look

The funds 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.

As well as spaces for play and fun gardening work, artists impressions show there will be quiet areas including Wi-Fi and plug-in points for older children to enjoy. The space will also have heated and sheltered areas, as well as lighting for evening use and will be space themed.

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