Shy boy from Halifax meets the Queen - eventually!

Three-year-old Lewis Connett, who was diagnosed with Apert Syndrome when he was a baby, with his parents Donna and John after he gave the Queen a posy during her visit to officially open the new Alder Hey Children's Hospital.
Three-year-old Lewis Connett, who was diagnosed with Apert Syndrome when he was a baby, with his parents Donna and John after he gave the Queen a posy during her visit to officially open the new Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

A THREE-YEAR-OLD boy was overcome with shyness as he presented a posy to the Queen during her visit to officially open the new Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

After emerging from her Bentley to rapturous applause, the Queen, accompanied by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, slowly bent down to accept the colourful collection of carnations, roses and sweet peas from Lewis Connett, who is a patient at the Liverpool hospital.

The youngster, who was diagnosed with Apert Syndrome when he was a baby which causes abnormal development of the skull and other areas of the body, has endured several operations at the hospital.

Alder Hey is one of only four hospitals in England and Wales which has the required infrastructure and expertise to treat these rare conditions and is a national centre for neuro and craniofacial surgery and regional centre for burns. It is also a Centre of Excellence for children with cancer, heart, spinal and brain disease.

After passing the Queen his flowers, Lewis, who is one of the Young Fundraising Ambassadors who helps to raise money for the hospital, then ran to his mother’s arms beckoning to be picked up.

And after getting the courage to look up again at the Queen - from the comfort of his mother Donna’s arms - the Queen smiled at the little boy from Halifax before uttering a few words to Mrs Connett.

Speaking afterwards Mrs Connett said the Queen had told her there was “no need to worry”.

She added: “She was really nice about it. Obviously it was a bit much for Lewis but it was a privilege and an honour to come and give her flowers.”

Earlier the Queen and the Duke were welcomed to Liverpool where they took time to visit the world’s biggest business fair this year, the International Festival for Business and officially open Exhibition Centre Liverpool.

After lunch, they arrived at the new Alder Hey Hospital - ‘Alder Hey in the Park’ - which opened in 2015 and is Europe’s first hospital in a park.

The new facility, in which children and young people were involved in its design, provides a purpose-built, unique and world class healing environment for children and young people.

Mrs Connett added: “When we first started coming to the old hospital the staff were amazing but now they have moved over here, as well as the staff being amazing the hospital is as well. It doesn’t feel like you are coming to a hospital, you are coming somewhere where they really care for you.”

Scores of people had lined the entrance to the hospital and united in a “hip hip hooray” as those lucky enough to see the Queen in person waved Union Jack flags and handed her flowers, whilst more looked on from the balcony of inside the hospital.

The Queen and Duke were greeted by Alder Hey’s chairman Sir David Henshaw.

During their tour, they visited the out-patients garden where they were serenaded by a choir before visiting children and their families on the wards.

The Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust provides care for over 275,000 children and young people every year and delivers clinical excellence for all children for routine illnesses as well as complex and rare conditions.

Speaking after the Queen unveiled to the plaque to commemorate the hospital’s official opening, Sir David said: “It’s been a really fabulous day for Alder Hey and it is the start of a long journey. Her Majesty was absolutely superb with patients and staff and was so interested in what we are doing and how unlike an ordinary hospital we are.”

One of the hospital’s patients Ted McCaffery, nine, who is also an ambassador, said it felt “amazing” being stood at the front of the crowds to welcome the Queen.

Ted, from Warrington, was born with a heart condition that got progressively worse and was told three years ago on Christmas Eve that he would need emergency surgery.

Holding up a poster, he said: “I’m here to meet the Queen - well hopefully. I had open heart surgery three years ago and now I’m back to all my sport at school. Being ambassador I get to do all the fun stuff.”

As well as juggling his role at the hospital, Ted also won the Pride of Britain award in 2014 after raising money for the hospital.

So far he has raised £81,000.

He said: “Because my television was broken when I was in hospital I decided to raise money because I didn’t want the next person after to be sad.”

His mother Jo, 48, said that she was “proud and honoured” to attend today.

She added: “It’s such an amazing place and it saves people’s lives every day.”

The Queen also met retired Liverpool FC football Jamie Carragher who is a charity patron of the hospital and who donates money in order to fund new equipment.