Injured troops and cancer patients were given a massive boost this week after receiving a surprise visit from David Beckham.
The international footballer dropped in for a secret visit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Wednesday.
He accompanied actor Ray Winstone, known for his tough guy roles in films such as Sexy Beast and The Departed. Both arrived via a back entrance so as not to cause chaos in reception.
Mr Winstone had told his footballing friend about the visit when they met up just before Christmas and invited him along.
‘I said “great” as obviously I’m not playing at the moment so I had the time,’ Beckham said.
The pair spent around an hour and a half visiting patients and their families on the mixed trauma ward.
They also met a number of staff from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, where injured troops are flown from Afghanistan for treatment. Beckham chatted about Christmas and football while he signed autographs, including one staff-members uniform.
The father-of-four went on to the Teenage Cancer Trust Young Persons Unit at the hospital, where he chatted with patients aged 16 to 24 years and the staff caring for them.
Adam Woods, 21, James Freeman, 21, and Kieran Beard, 23, all from Birmingham, were among the cancer patients who met Beckham who agreed cheerfully to pose for photos.
Speaking afterwards Beckham, who visited soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010, said: ‘The troops are very positive about life and their future. So it really has been inspiring.
‘We talked about what they did at Christmas and what I did at Christmas and a little bit about football.
‘It was also really great to meet their families. I wanted to reiterate how much support they have outside of their immediate families.’
Ray Winstone added: ‘These kids are out there protecting my children and what the world will one day be when I’m gone, so it’s only right that we support them.’
The three-hour visit was organised by CSE Forces Entertainment, who provide morale-boosting shows and visits for the military.
Nurse, Cpl Neil Middleton, said the visit had been very effective.
‘I think it means alot. Some of the military patients are here for months at a time and being in hospital is a pretty boring experience. So it really added something to the day,’ he said.