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Sophie Ellis-Bextor surprises children with PJ themed party at Wirral children's hospice

29th October 2019

Children at Claire House Children’s Hospice in the Wirral received a surprise visit from singer, songwriter and mother of five, Sophie Ellis-Bextor yesterday (Monday 28 October). 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 Children's Hospice.

“I loved spending time visiting Claire House today, it is a bright, happy place and it’s been really special to talk to some of the children and their families, and to see how the amazing staff are helping them to live life to the full. The work Claire House Children's Hospice do is so inspiring; as a mum, I feel it’s so important that charities like this are able to bring a sense of normality to family life during some of the most difficult times.”

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

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 transforming lives every day – today has really brought to life how this makes a difference to families.”

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

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, Children’s Hospice. 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.”

“The Pyjama party with Sophie has been amazing and it’s helped create some really special memories for the children, their siblings and parents. “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.”

David Pastor, CEO, Claire House Children’s Hospice

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. This includes projects run by the smallest of grassroots community organisations right up to national charities, such as Mind UK, The Wildlife Trust, NSPCC, Age UK and The Princes Trust to name but a few.

To celebrate 25 years of The National Lottery supporting charities and community groups across the UK have also been posting ‘crossed finger selfies’ with their beneficiaries, volunteers and supporters with #NationalLottery25.

“National Lottery players can feel proud of the difference they’ve made to communities across the UK. We want to ask everyone, including charities that have benefited from our funding, to join us in our celebrations by posting crossed finger selfies on social media to highlight the fact that money from The National Lottery really changes lives.”

Ben Harrison, Engagement Director at The National Lottery Community Fund

Discover the positive impact playing The National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the 25th Birthday hashtag: #NationalLottery25

Notes to editors

Pictures, interviews and case studies of people and projects who have benefitted from National Lottery funding are available on request.

For further information and images, please contact:

Matt Gurr: matt.gurr@freuds.com, +44 (7545) 610829
Emily Rosselli: Emily.rosselli@freuds.com, 07734 785798
Phoebe Knatchbull: Phoebe.Knatchbull@freuds.com, 0770 306 6633

• National Lottery players have raised over £2.4 billion towards charities that focus on health and saving lives, over £2.2 billion towards disability charities, and £2.3 billion for charities that focus on the relief of poverty.

• Claire’s Hospice is one of the many incredible charities supported by The National Lottery. Since 1994, The National Lottery has donated over £10.3 billion to UK charities, funding over 110,120 charitable projects and over 80% of these grants have gone towards small charities (those with an annual income of £500,000 or less)

About The National Lottery and its 25th Birthday celebration:

• The National Lottery’s Birthday celebrations are running for eight weeks (from 14 Oct until the beginning of December). There are some incredible activities planned across the UK to celebrate the good causes that have been made possible thanks to National Lottery players over the last 25 years.

• Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community.

• The 25th birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the UK, and to say thank you to National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million to good causes every week.

• The National Lottery has made more than 5,500 millionaires but its primary purpose is giving to good causes - over 565,000 individual grants have been awarded across the UK, that’s the equivalent of 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district