Poorly children meet stars at Downing Street party

Oxford Mail: Callum Selkirk with Dick and Dom Callum Selkirk with Dick and Dom

BRITAIN’S corridors of power were taken over by brave children and celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment for a Christmas party.

Two Oxfordshire children joined stars such as Chelsea and England footballer Frank Lampard, presenter Christine Bleakley, and EastEnders actress Kara Tointon at the Downing Street celebration.

Mason Fernley, 11, of Finstock, near Charlbury, and six year-old Callum Selkirk, from Ambrosden, near Bicester, were on the VIP list.

The party was hosted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a charity that grants wishes for seriously and terminally ill children.

Other celebs were X Factor’s Diana Vickers, Strictly Come Dancing’s Ben Cohen, Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint.

Mason, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy aged seven, said: “It was exciting because I have only even seen Downing Street on TV before. It made me feel happy.”

Mason said his highlight was meeting CBBC’s Incredible Edibles presenter Stefan Gates, who served up some gruesome snacks like bugs.

Mason’s Dad Paul Fernley, 44, said: “It was a chance of a lifetime. There aren’t many people who go into number 10 and number 11 Downing Street.

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“They never told us we were meeting celebrities. We met Frank Lampard and Kara Tointon who were really friendly.”

Guests had a tour of number 10 before seeing the state rooms of number 11 Downing Street transformed into a winter wonderland with Santa’s grotto. Reindeer were also included in the party.

Callum, who has cystic fibrosis, visited with his mum Debra Cherry, 29.

He said: “It was the best day of my life. My favourite bit was meeting Ron from Harry Potter.”

Miss Cherry said: “It was a day I don’t think either of us will forget.

“It was a bit surreal to be at Downing Street. Callum didn’t realise where we were because he’s only six but it was strange for me.”

Mr Osborne said: “It is wonderful to bring Christmas cheer to these very poorly children and their families.”

Ms Tointon, best known for playing Dawn Swann in EastEnders, is a former winner of BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.

She said: “It was lovely to be able to attend Starlight’s Christmas party and wonderful to see beaming smiles on the young guests’ faces.”

  • For more on Starlight go to starlight.org.uk

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