Brave patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital were overjoyed to receive a visit from comic and popular children’s author, David Walliams, this week.

David, who has sold over 50 million books, translated into 54 languages is a big supporter of the hospital, most recently through a donation of all his royalties this year from his book The Midnight Gang, which is set in a children’s ward of a hospital.  This was David’s second visit having previously treated patients to a live reading and book signing, back in December 2016.

David’s latest visit was in support of the charity’s Virtual Reality Appeal, which is raising funds to reduce anxiety, stress levels and discomfort for patients receiving minor medical procedures.

David met with Dr Ben O’Sullivan the Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist who has pioneered the use of virtual reality at the hospital to transport patients into a lifelike, three-dimensional world where they can – for a short period of time – forget about why they are in hospital and the medical procedure they’re about to receive.

As well as putting smiles on the faces of sick kids, families and staff on a number of the hospital’s wards, David enjoyed the chance to try the technology himself, and see the impact and benefits the kit has across different areas of the hospital, including its specialist Burns Centre.

David said: “It’s a privilege to be back at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to meet some of the amazing patients, their families, and staff – especially at Christmas time. Seeing the headsets in action shows what a game changer virtual reality is when it comes to distracting patients during treatment. Anything that makes things less scary for these brave children is great – not just for them - but their families and the doctors and nurses too.”

While at the hospital, David also took the opportunity to play ‘Santa’ himself in the hospital’s grotto, run by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and its loyal volunteers. David surprised passing visitors as he dressed up as Santa, listened to their Christmas wishes and delivered festive cheer by hand-delivering gifts.

Matt Mangan, Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have welcomed David to our hospital for a second visit. Being in hospital is an incredibly worrying time for our sick kids and their families, no more so than at Christmas and it was a real honour David made the time to come and spend a couple of hours with us to brighten the day of so many of our brave patients who are too poorly to be at home. We’re so grateful for David’s support of our VR Appeal and hope he had fun seeing just how beneficial the headsets are to the experience of our sick kids.”