David Beckham visited Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice in Oxford on Wednesday 8th July for a couple of hours to meet staff and families who are cared for by the hospice.
The visit took place soon after a recent interview on BBC Radio Oxford when 14 year old Jasper Grannum, who is cared for by the hospice, was given the opportunity of a lifetime to interview a famous person and come onto the Kat Orman programme to DJ for an hour on Friday 3 July’
Jasper who has Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy and visits Helen & Douglas House for respite stays, chose David Beckham and David Walliams to interview. They both replied and said yes to Jasper interviewing them over Zoom during Children’s Hospice Week at the end of June.
Jasper asked them some wonderful questions including one that said had they heard of Helen & Douglas House and had they been there. Both David’s said no they had not been there and would like to come to visit. Jasper mentioned that he loved playing pool at the hospice so David Beckham said he would challenge him to a game.
David Beckham was quick to organise a private visit soon after the interview and visited the hospice on 8th July. When David arrived at 1.40pm, as with all visitors, his temperature was taken and he was given hand sanitiser and he was welcomed by Clare Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House. Because of COVID-19 they were not able to show him the full hospice just the garden and play area and social distancing had to be maintained.
He was introduced to staff members, Ruth Bevington, Colette Smith, Becky Davis and Emma Jordan who talked about the work they do caring for local children and how COVID-19 has affected the care they are giving local families particularly giving extra support at home. He then spent the majority of his time meeting three families who the hospice cares for including 15 year old Mason and eight year old Taylor Morgan’s family, Jasper’s family and 17 year old Mason Fernley’s family who live near Chipping Norton.
David was very relaxed and chatted to the children and their families about home schooling his children and how they are keeping up with their school work, his dogs, his children and his bee keeping through to answering questions about what was the favourite goal he had ever scored. He also tried to convert Jasper from being a Chelsea fan to a Manchester United fan to no avail. He also talked about how lovely it had been to be at his home in Oxfordshire during lockdown and the whole family being able to enjoy the lovely countryside.
Once he had met the three families, he played a game of pool with Jasper and with Taylor. He also chatted to Mason Fernley and Jasper’s younger sisters Thalia and Genevieve who are similar ages to his daughter Harper, who are part of the Helen & Douglas siblings club, which made their day.
The children, their families and staff then had photos taken with him. Each child he met was given a signed Inter Miami football shirt as a memento from a day they will never forget.
Clare Periton from Helen & Douglas House said ‘It was such a special day which really lifted everyone spirits and made special memories which will be with us all forever. It has been a tough time for our families during the COVID-19 pandemic as they have been shielding and have been isolated at home. David’s visit bought much needed joy and laughter to the children, their families and the staff at the hospice.
‘Everyone who works at Helen & Douglas House whether they are from catering, fundraising or our care team, gives their all and has absolute passion for this place and when you see someone like David invest time to come and visit us it is such a wonderful experience for us all.
‘David is such a lovely person and so generous with his time. He was very relaxed and he chatted with ease, making everyone feel very special. Jasper and Taylor had a pool game they will never forget and will remember forever.
‘We would like to say a massive thank you to David and his team for organising this visit. David put a huge smile on everyone’s face, and it will be such a special memory treasured by everyone who was there for a long time to come. We hope he enjoyed the visit as much as we did and will come and see us again.’
Jasper Grannum said ‘David was very nice. It was off the scale sensational to meet the best football player ever. I won a game of pool against him and he gave me a signed Miami football shirt. Thank you Helen & Douglas House for arranging this. I’ll remember it forever’
Nicola and Phil Grannum said ‘It was thrilling to meet David and see Jasper smiling from ear to ear. We are so pleased David was able to visit and support Helen & Douglas House. David is a true gentleman and legend. Helen & Douglas House is all about creating memories and Jasper had such a special day.’
If you would like to support your local children’s hospice, you can donate by going to www.hdh.org.uk or calling 01865 799150.