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David Beckham plays table football with sick children during surprise hospital visit to pay tribute to NHS staff

DAVID BECKHAM made a surprise visit to pay tribute to nominees of The Sun’s amazing Who Cares Wins Awards.

The former England footie captain stunned poorly children — including a young Manchester United fan — on the ward as he praised the dedication of selfless NHS doctors and nurses who organised an extraordinary rescue mission to Ukraine.

David Beckham takes on Ukrainian youngster Kyrylo at table football
David, 47, gives Kyrylo a signed Manchester United shirt
Red Devils fan Kyrylo, 12, who suffers from sarcoma, shows off his souvenir

A visibly emotional Becks, 47, was meeting one of the nominees in the awards’ Best Team category — the winners of which will be revealed tonight when the glittering ceremony airs on Channel 4 at 6.30pm.

Medics from Southampton Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital were put forward for the gong after they helped to evacuate 21 Ukrainian children with cancer to hospitals in England.

Becks dropped in to surprise the children being cared for at London’s University College Hospital, including 12-year-old Red Devils fan Kyrylo, who suffers from sarcoma.

During his moving visit, David chatted with the youngster about sport, played table football and posed for selfies with patients.

The father-of-four, whose daughter Harper is just one year younger than Kyrylo, told The Sun: “It hits you even when you don’t have kids, but when you have kids that are the same age, like Kyrylo, you automatically think of your own children. It hits home.”

Kyrylo told Becks: “I am a big football fan. I support Manchester United but I love Cristiano Ronaldo!”

Laughing, Becks replied: “Everyone loves Cristiano, he is a great player.”

David then surprised the thrilled lad with a signed shirt.

On the important work medical teams and their support staff do, Becks added: “Over the last few years, with things like Covid, there’s been a real focus on the NHS, it’s just a shame such focus hasn’t been there before. They do so much, and meeting all the nurses here is so inspiring.

‘The focus shouldn’t go away from the NHS’

“I said to them, ‘I’m sure you must hear this all the time but the work you do is incredible — it is tireless work, thank you’.

“They seemed happy. But the focus shouldn’t just go away now that we are moving on from Covid.

“We shouldn’t forget about the work the NHS does.”

Becks and Red Devils fan Kyrylo posed for a picture
Nurses at London’s UCH take a selfie with Becks

David, who was a guest at last year’s Who Cares Wins Awards along with Prince William, added: “The awards are a very special night for these heroes because we get to celebrate everything they do every single minute of every single day. It’s so important to keep that going.”

This year’s event took place at the Roundhouse in London on Tuesday and was hosted by Davina McCall.

A number of stars were there, including boxer Anthony Joshua, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, singers Ellie Goulding and Mel B, TV chef Jamie Oliver, Olympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, TV host Piers Morgan and footie’s David Seaman and Harry Redknapp.

The incredible medics Becks visited are collectively one of the nominees for Best Team.

Also in the running for the Best Team award are the cutting-edge Proton Beam Therapy Centre at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, and the Wellow Unit at St Mary’s Hospital, on the Isle of Wight, which was set up to improve care for patients and their loved ones in the final days of their lives.

Within 72 hours of an SOS from the NHS in March, staff from Southampton Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital were on a flight to rescue the 21 young cancer patients who had been left stranded by the war in Ukraine.

The children had been treated in Ukrainian hospitals when Russia invaded and had already endured a traumatic journey across the border to Poland.

Becks congratulated the team on their amazing nomination when he met Dr Michael Griksaitis

Consultant paediatric oncologist Dr Martin English, who led the team from Birmingham Children’s Hospital — part of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust — said: “Until we took off we didn’t know what their diagnoses were.

“It was a huge team effort and it was a tremendous privilege to be involved.”

Play specialist Emma Hughes, from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “When I got told, within an hour I’d packed a cabin case of games.

“As soon as we landed, all the patients and parents were just clapping. I had to look out of the window, because I’d have cried.”

The medics were nominated by Freya Pearson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at University Hospital Southampton, who said: “We are all so proud of their efforts.”

The youngsters are now being cared for at seven NHS hospitals across England.

Becks congratulated the team on their amazing nomination when he met Dr Michael Griksaitis, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist & Clinical Lead for Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team, a collaboration between two paediatric intensive care units.

Becks said: “It’s incredible what you are doing, and to be here to witness exactly what you do and the children you are helping, keeping them alive and safe, is really incredible. Congratulations.”

Dr Michael said: “I am so proud of the team. This is the NHS at its best, people coming together from all over the country to save lives.”

He added of Becks: “It was really apparent he cared about meeting the children. Even when the cameras weren’t filming, he was just so lovely to them.

“I thanked him for being so genuine with them.

“It made me really happy that these kids who have had such a hard time, and are still having a hard time, were excited to meet him and he gave back what they were giving to him.”

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