Eye on the ball for National Play in Hospital Week 

20/09/2011 00:00 

Young patients at University College Hospital were mesmerised by the skills of ‘freestyle footballers’ Colin Nell and Noel Battle during the annual National Play in Hospital Week.

Tori Chipping with Miss Ballooniverse

Tori Chipping with Miss Ballooniverse

The week long initiative, which is organised by National Association of Hospital Play Staff and Starlight Children’s Foundation, aims to promote the value of play for sick children and young people in hospitals and hospices throughout the UK.

A host of events were organised across the hospital including a promotional stand in the atrium; Miss Ballooniverse visited patients in radiotherapy, funded by the charity Fight for Life; a karaoke disco party was held for teenage patients provided by Smooth C Entertainment and a pizza party and prize-giving was held to celebrate patients’ artwork with awards presented by medical director Dr Gill Gaskin.

Footballer tricksters Colin and Noel visited patients on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit to bring an end to the week by showcasing the skills and tricks which have seen them appear as doubles in TV ads for some of the world’s best footballers.

Colin Nell in action

Colin Nell in action

The duo filled the unit’s playroom with children and their parents as they juggled footballs, tennis balls and golf balls with their feet and span footballs on the top of pencils between their teeth.

Irene O'Donnell, Play Services Manager, at UCLH, said: “From first hand experience, play does keep sick children engaged, they require less pain relief and it can significantly reduce their recovery time.  Not only does it provide a sick child with some much needed fun and entertainment, it can also vastly reduce the amount of anxiety they experience, enabling them to respond much better to their treatment.”

Starlight, which provides entertainment in hospitals and hospices across the UK and grants wishes for seriously ill children, gave the UCLH play team decorations, party packs and goody bags packed with treats for every child. 


Colin Nell (left) and Noel Battle (right) with patient Mohammed Hussain

Colin Nell (left) and Noel Battle (right) with patient Mohammed Hussain

Colin and Noel were invited into the hospital by senior activity co-ordinator Haroon Mota. Colin said: “It was a real privilege to be invited in to show some of the young patients our skills. We can't take their illness back but we can show that we care and help put smiles on their faces. Knowing you’re never alone makes all the difference.”

Haroon is running the Virgin London Marathon 2012 for Teenage Cancer Trust. To sponsor him visit www.justgiving.com/run4tct

To support Starlight, please go online at www.starlight.org.uk


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