Publish date: 27 November 2022

Young cancer patients and staff couldn’t believe their eyes when David Beckham paid a visit to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre earlier this year.

The sporting legend was there to meet Kyrylo, aged 12, who travelled from Ukraine in April in a special operation to bring 21 Ukrainian children to the UK for cancer treatment. Professor Rachael Hough, Consultant Haematologist at UCLH, helped to organise the multi-agency operation in her role as Chair of the NHS England Children and Young People Clinical Reference Group. UCLH is currently treating two young patients from Ukraine for their cancer.

Kyrylo, who is a Manchester United fan and told David Beckham that he had followed his career, chatted with his hero about his cancer treatment and played a game of table football. He was also delighted to be presented with a signed football shirt from his favourite team.

David and Kyrylo play table football.jpg
Photo credit: Dan Charity/The Sun

David Beckham then spent time with some other teenage cancer patients who were receiving treatment in the Cancer Centre. He also met with staff to thank them for their hard work and dedication. David Beckham took selfies, made video calls and even recorded a video message for someone that missed the occasion.

UCLH Chief Executive, David Probert, said, “This was such an exciting occasion for our young patients and staff in the Cancer Centre. David Beckham may be a football legend, but he was really interested in Kyrylo’s treatment and our teenage and young adult cancer service. He was also incredibly generous with his time meeting so many youngsters and staff and making lasting, positive memories for those undergoing tough treatments.”

Dr Sara Stoneham, Divisional Clinical Director for Children and Young People's services, added, “David Beckham’s visit not only recognised the significant contribution that UCLH staff have made in helping with the treatment of young Ukrainian patients, it also brought happiness to many young people being treated in the Cancer Centre.

“I am incredibly proud of the team at UCLH who work tirelessly to provide care and support to all families of children and young people receiving treatment here. This support is particularly important for refugee families, including our families from Ukraine. Through the UCLH RESPOND service, we are supporting refugees from across the world as part of our ambition to provide equitable healthcare for all.”

UCLH is an international centre of expertise for the treatment of cancer in teenage and young adult patients with state-of-the-art in-patient, out-patient, day care and ambulatory care facilities.

UCLH Charity has provided some financial support to help the Ukrainian patients and their families settle into the UK while the children are treated.

David Beckham’s visit was organised by the Sun newspaper as part of their Who Cares Wins awards which saw members of the team that brought over the Ukrainian children winning an award for the Best Team.