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Vulnerable children enjoy exclusive Hamleys visit

THANKS to the wives and partners of the QPR first team, a number of vulnerable children and their siblings were treated to an exclusive event at Hamleys toy store in central London at the weekend.

A total of 60 youngsters had the incredible experience of having one of the most famous toy stores on earth to themselves – all seven floors of it! – for TWO HOURS before the shop officially opened last Sunday.

And due to the incredible generosity of the QPR players, wives and partners, as well as the club’s owners and fans, each child was given money to spend in the store.

QPR Trust’s Justin Stone, who worked closely with the wives and partners to organise the event, said: “We hosted a number of our Down’s syndrome Tiger Cubs participants as well as youngsters currently going through NHS treatments. This was made possible by the wives and partners of the squad and it is just fantastic.

“It is amazing to see the smiles on the faces of children who have been through such challenging times.

“The players, wives and partners were unable to attend due to the club’s Covid protocols but that didn’t stop them getting involved. Charlie Austin, Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair all surprised fans with FaceTime calls as they walked around the store which was great.”

Bianca Austin, wife or R’s striker Charlie, said: “It was a shame we couldn’t be in attendance but everyone has to be so careful. The most important thing was that the children and young people were able to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Working with the other wives and partners to make this happen has been a lot of work but so much fun – and seeing the impact it’s had makes it so worthwhile.”

Due to the nature of some of the children’s illnesses, there were a number who were unable to get along to Hamleys in person but Bianca and co. made sure they weren’t forgotten.

Stone explained: “We got bags of presents for those that couldn’t make it and we will be visiting them ahead of Christmas to make sure they have their gifts in time for the big day!”

Patricia Moorhead, who works for the NHS Children's Community Nursing Team, added: “The players’ partners and wives have been absolutely amazing. Christmas is pretty hard for our patients at the moment but the club, wives and partners have been so generous and it means these children are able to get some incredible presents – and they really deserve it!”

Crucially, the patients in attendance were able to shop in a largely-empty store.

“Due to Covid, the families have to be so careful and spend so much of their time isolating, so being able to come to Hamleys and not worry about a big crowd was so important,” Moorhead explained.

“Everyone took tests before attending and abided by the Covid guidelines. We were as safe as we could possibly be which was reassuring for the parents and liberating for the children.

“It was fantastic, just amazing!”

Bianca added: “I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated to the FamZone and made Sunday’s trip to Hamleys possible. We were all desperately disappointed when it was postponed but we can’t wait to get it off the ground in the New Year.”

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated to the FamZone.

Bianca Austin