Charlie joins the stars to switch on the lights

Sheffield Childrens Hospital Xmas Lights Switch On....LtoR. Michael Vaughan,Patient Charlie Briggs,Lucy Spraggan
Sheffield Childrens Hospital Xmas Lights Switch On....LtoR. Michael Vaughan,Patient Charlie Briggs,Lucy Spraggan

THE stars were from Strictly Come Dancing and X-Factor - but the spotlight also fell on patient Charlie Briggs at the switch-on of the Christmas lights at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, who left the BBC show last weekend, and Stannington based singer Lucy Spraggan, who was a contestant on the ITV talent show, were joined at the ceremony by the four-year-old.

The youngster’s sight was saved by doctors at the hospital - and his family threw its weight behind the £20m appeal towards a £40m redevelopment of the building. The Christmas lights are sponsored by local businesses and community groups and all the money raised will go towards the ‘Make it Better’ appeal.

Charlie was rushed by ambulance to the X-Ray department at the Children’s Hospital after waking up with a badly swollen eye just before Christmas last year. He needed an emergency operation to avoid the danger of going blind in one eye.

Charlie’s eyesight was saved thanks to two operations, and Charlie made it home to Dronfield in time for Christmas Eve.

“No-one wanted to switch the Christmas lights on until Charlie came home and he was really excited to do it!” said dad Mark. “We managed to have a fantastic Christmas.

“If it wasn’t for The Children’s Hospital, Charlie could have lost his sight, and we can’t thank the staff enough. He’s gone from strength to strength since his time in hospital. We’re so thrilled with how he’s doing.”

Another patient involved in the ceremony was Daniel Thomas, aged 13, of Doncaster, a finalist in BBC Radio 2’s Chorister of the Year 2012, who was singing alongside The University of Sheffield Medics’ choir.

He owes his life to the Children’s Hospital from when he was two weeks old and caught the respiratory syncytial virus, a common virus which gives adults and older children mild flu-like symptoms, but can be fatal to very young babies.

He pulled through after his heart stopped.

Mum Rachel said: “Daniel picked up every cough and cold imaginable for a long time after his ordeal, but if you were to look at him today you would have absolutely no idea what he went through. It is an absolute miracle that Daniel is here and doing so well after what he went through – we’re so thankful to the brilliant doctors and nurses for what they did.”

For Michael Vaughan, it was a return to the hospital where he is a patron, and for which he raised over £200,000 for specialist brain surgery equipment by trekking with family and friends along the Great Wall of China.

Catching his breath after the exertions of Strictly Come Dancing and before going on a family holiday, he said: “It is always a huge honour to be asked to come to this event.”

Lucy Spraggan sang a song from her new album.