Sophie Ellis-Bextor visits Claire House

Children at Claire House Children’s Hospice in the Wirral received a surprise visit from singer, songwriter and mother of five, Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Sophie visited during a pyjama-themed party and brought along a birthday cake, to celebrate The National Lottery’s support for charities across the UK over the past 25 years.

The sleepover-style party, complete with miniature tipis and fairy lights, involved Sophie playing party games with the children, taking part in art activities, and reading the children a story before their afternoon nap.

Sophie spent some time chatting to some of the staff, parents, children and their siblings, and hearing first-hand about the important work they do to and the impact that funding from The National Lottery has had on Claire House.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor said: “National Lottery players have raised an incredible £10.3 billion for charities across the UK over the past 25 years, with 80 per cent of grants going to smaller charities.

“Money from the National Lottery has been used in the development of the hospice including the construction of a new Teenage Wing featuring four specialist bedrooms and two family rooms.

“Lots of people won’t be aware that the National Lottery has already raised billions of pounds for amazing charities that are changing lives every day – today has really brought to life how this makes a difference to real families.”

One of the families in attendance at the pyjama party with Sophie is Shirley McIntyre, whose son Charlie, 9, was born with Lissencephaly – a rare, gene-linked condition which affects about one in 100,000 babies.

In Charlie’s case, Lissencephaly has had a profound effect on his development. Shirley said: “Charlie can’t walk or talk, and he can’t use his hands or sit up. Everything you or I take for granted or do on a daily basis, Charlie can’t do. In developmental terms he’s the equivalent of a six-month-old.”

Charlie was six when his parents first brought him to Claire House. Charlie typically spends two days and nights at Claire House where he takes part in a wide range of activities ranging from arts and craft classes to day trips to the seaside. Shirley also explained: “It’s a little holiday for him being here, and a much needed break for us. He has a lovely time and gets spoilt rotten. There’s always something going on for the kids. Charlie can’t do a lot of things, but enjoys painting and making things, and enjoys getting involved.”

Claire House’s CEO, David Pastor, said: “The Pyjama party with Sophie has been amazing and it’s helped create some really special memories for the children, their siblings and parents.    

David continues: “We’re really pleased to be part of the National Lottery’s 25th. Birthday celebrations. Funding from The National Lottery has helped us improve facilities for children and young people  and refurbish our Art Room so children and their families have an up to date, safe and fun place to spend time together.

“Alongside charities in every part of the UK, we want to say a big thank you to National Lottery players who raise so much for charities and community groups.”