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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 17:56 GMT
Steps raise fans' spirits
Steps said they found the visit very moving and worthwhile
Pop stars Steps brought some Christmas cheer to more than 60 of their young fans when they paid a special visit to a hospital ward.

The group - whose hits include Love's Got A Hold Of My Heart and a cover of the Bee Gees' Tragedy - dropped in to see the children at the top cancer hospital, the Royal Marsden in Sutton, south-west London.

Although initially starstruck by the meeting, the young patients - aged four to 16 - soon relaxed to enjoy chatting and playing with each of the group's five members.

Faye Tozer raises a laugh from patient Emily Bowden
Five year-old Emily Bowden, who is suffering from a brain tumour, said she enjoyed meeting the band - especially H, also known as Ian Watkins.

"H tickled me to make me laugh for the camera and they gave me my own album," she said.

While nine-year-old Hannah Silvery, who has been bed-bound in the Royal Marsden for five months, had her bed wheeled into the playroom so that she could meet the stars.

"I spoke to Claire - she is my favourite," said Hannah.

"I told her I wanted a painting by numbers set for Christmas. She said that her sister had one once but she couldn't paint without the numbers - it turned out all wrong."

After the visit, Steps - whose other members are Faye Tozer, Lee Latchford Evans and Lisa Scott-Lee - said that they had found meeting the children very rewarding.

Claire Richards enjoys a game with Bobby Dolam
Faye said: "All of us find this a bit difficult but it's immensely moving to see their faces. It means a lot to us to give them a bit of Chrimbo cheer."

Alastair Whittington, director of the Wolfson Unit for Children and Adolescence, was also pleased with the visit.

"This makes it a very special day for the children. For children, having an illness is always very tiring. Something like this just lifts all of them," he said.

See also:

20 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Steps aim Stateside
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