Hughie and Freddie's Milestone Week
Young fundraisers and best friends Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi melted the hearts of TV viewers and football fans recently with two incredible events.
Last week (Wednesday, 31st January) Hughie and Freddie attended the Man City V Burnley FC match where they ran round the pitch at half-time to raise money for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Then yesterday (Monday, 5th February) the duo appeared live on BBC Breakfast from the children’s hospital so Hughie could ring the End of Treatment Bell.
The friends have raised more than £347,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and have been passionate about the cause ever since Hughie, then aged 10, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in September 2020. Freddie, who was just nine years old at the time, decided to start a fundraising challenge in Hughie’s honour, initially hoping to raise £1,000. But since then the duo’s story has been shared on national TV and in newspapers, helping them to smash their target and raise the incredible six-figure sum. In 2021 their amazing efforts earned them a Pride of Britain Award.
Last week the boys, now both aged 13, ran round the Etihad Stadium at half-time as part of their bid to run 1km around every Premier League and English Football League Club. At each stadium they aim to raise funds for the local paediatric oncology unit, and this latest event was to raise money for Manchester Foundation Trust Charity, who will use the money for projects at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Hughie’s dad Keiron, who joined the boys pitch-side with Freddie’s mum Sarah, said: “The crowd really got behind the boys and cheered them on. The weather was torrential but that failed to dampen their spirits.”
Sarah added: “Both boys support Burnley and Freddie also follows City, so this was a very special event for both boys to be part of and we just want to thank City for being so accommodating.”
The run was then followed by a special event in Hughie’s life this week – ringing the End of Treatment Bell. Most youngsters will choose to do this surrounded by family and friends, but as well as his loved ones Hughie was surrounded by TV crews from BBC Breakfast, who have been following the friends’ journey since 2020.
Not only was the special moment aired to millions of BBC viewers, TV staff also organised a special surprise visit for Hughie from Burnley’s Josh Brownhill, Jack Cork and Stuart Hall. There was also a special video message from Radio One DJ, podcaster and fellow Burnley fan Jordan North.
Surrounded by nursing staff, Hughie’s bell ring was something the family have been looking forward to for three-and-a-half years and there wasn’t a dry eye on the rooftop as he rang it.
A tearful Hughie told viewers: “We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time and I’m so glad it’s finally come. I was so happy ringing the bell.” Thanking all the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital staff, his sister Beatrix added: “It was so warming to know he was coming to hospital and there is great people everywhere. Everyone is so welcoming. I can’t thank everybody enough.”
Freddie said: “It was tough to see Hughie going through cancer and all the things he’s had to go through but I knew I wanted to do something to help. It was so great being here today.”
The boys recently fronted the Charity’s Rooftop Play Appeal – urging the public to help raise £300,000 to revamp the hospital’s outdoor play space. This special area is for inpatients and allows them to play outdoors, while still remaining within the safe confines of the hospital.
Live on BBC Breakfast they announced the appeal target had been reached – with £364,176 now being allocated to the rooftop revamp. The money is a mix of Hughie and Freddie’s own fundraising, and donations from members of the public who supported the appeal.
Angela Rowe, Deputy Director of Manchester Foundation Trust Charity, said: “Hughie and Freddie are both incredible young lads and have achieved so much in their young lives. Having them as fundraisers and representing us is a true honour.
“Of course the money means the world to us, as it means we can start giving the play area a much-needed makeover so it can be enjoyed by thousands more children for years to come. But what was even more special was seeing Hughie finish his treatment and ring the bell. It was a really emotional and special time and I know everyone there felt how important it was for Hughie. There wasn’t a dry eye on the roof!
“The money for the rooftop, and the other fundraising Hughie and Freddie have done, will enable us to continue funding special projects to help families at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital both now and in the future.”
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