Page last updated at 20:13 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 21:13 UK

Michelle Obama visit draws crowds

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Michelle Obama and Sarah Brown visit a London hospital

US First Lady Michelle Obama has attracted crowds of supporters on a visit to a hospital with the prime minister's wife, Sarah Brown.

The two leaders' wives met patients at Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre in Charing Cross Hospital, west London.

Mrs Obama, in the UK with her husband for the G20 summit, later met the Queen at Buckingham Palace and gave her a gift of a personalised iPod.

Mrs Brown then hosted a gala dinner for the spouses of G20 leaders.

As well as Mrs Obama, guests at the dinner - held at 11 Downing Street - included the first ladies of Russia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico and Australia as well as prominent women from the worlds of the arts, sport and business.

During the hour-long visit to Maggie's, which coincided with the centre's first anniversary, Mrs Obama met patients.

Gifts

Wearing a green pencil skirt, cream sparkly cardigan, animal print heels and a pearl necklace, she stopped to wave to crowds chanting "Obama" and "Michelle".

Mrs Obama donated a book about the White House and a silver encased notepad and bookmark.

She and Mrs Brown, wearing a navy blue dress, met a family privately and were introduced to three male cancer patients.

They also sat in on a make-up session for women who have cancer.

Sarah Brown and Michelle Obama
Sarah Brown and Michelle Obama at Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre

The first lady shared beauty tips and described how her own make-up artist, whom she described as "wonderful", takes part in a similar programme.

Mrs Obama and Mrs Brown also had a cup of tea with staff and patients.

Introducing herself as "Michelle", she said she was planning a beehive for the White House garden, joking: "We have a big lawn."

In a short speech, she said: "I was delighted to be invited by Sarah Brown to help wish Maggie's a happy first birthday in London. Community jewels like this centre should always be celebrated.

"I was impressed with the centre's warm and caring environment and enjoyed meeting the people who work and get services here."

Mrs Brown, who is patron of Maggie's, said: "Bringing Michelle to the London centre was a great opportunity to demonstrate the role that Maggie's plays in the community, inspiring wellbeing through their design and providing the emotional support required to live with a critical illness such as cancer.

"They were originally inspired by American influences in the provision of cancer support which has now taken root all over the UK."

Conservative leader David Cameron's wife, Samantha, also met Michelle Obama, spending half-an-hour with the first lady, as their husbands held talks.

The two women exchanged almost identical gifts - bracelets for the ladies and books for the children.

The Obamas later attended a reception at Buckingham Palace before returning to Downing Street for separate dinners for the world leaders and their spouses.



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