Leeds & West Yorkshire

Prince Harry visits seriously ill boy on Leeds visit

Prince Harry during a visit to Oliver Rooney"s home in Bramley Image copyright Nigel Roddis/Getty
Image caption Prince Harry visited Oliver Rooney"s home in Bramley

Prince Harry has visited the home of a seriously ill five-year-old boy at his home in Leeds.

Oliver Rooney, of Bramley, has the rare chromosome disorder Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome, which results in profound and complex needs.

The prince met Oliver, his family and volunteers who are transforming his garden into a safe play space for the charity WellChild.

Oliver's mother said the visit was "something we'll talk about forever".

Elizabeth McOmish-Rooney, 44, told the prince that her son was previously unable to access the garden safely without constant close supervision and could not play with his brothers, Samuel, nine, Joseph, eight, Thomas, six, and his twin Jak.

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She said of Harry: "What a lovely man. The way he interacted with the boys was fantastic and he put us all at ease."

Image copyright Nigel Roddis/Getty
Image caption Oliver's garden is being transformed by the WellChild charity

The garden transformation would totally change their lives, she said.

"It's going to give us a space all the family can use.

"Previously, Oliver has had to be kept away from the other boys because of the condition of the garden at the bottom; now we're all going to be able to play together."

It was the 300th Helping Hands project the charity has carried out.

The prince later described the family as "lovely" and said of Ms McOmish-Rooney: "She is a superwoman."

He is also visiting Leeds Children's Hospital and the Haribo sweet factory in Castleford.

Image copyright Nigel Roddis/Getty
Image caption The prince spoke to the boys about sport and their garden makeover
Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA
Image caption The prince visited Leeds Children's Hospital on the final day of his trip to Leeds
Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA
Image caption Staff and families at the hospital met the prince on Friday morning

The prince met other seriously ill youngsters being helped by WellChild at the hospital, chatting to their parents about how they live their lives around their children's needs.

He talked with six-year-old Audrey Frantzich's parents, Louise and Herman, from Ilkley, about how she has the rare genetic condition Mosaic Trisomy 9.

He also played ball with Audrey's 17-month-old brother Tommy and joked about boisterous siblings.

Mrs Frantzich explained to Prince Harry how they have been helped to learn the skills to enable Audrey to live at home.

She asked the prince: "How are you finding Leeds, then?"

Smiling at the cameras, he said: "Leeds is fantastic."

Harry later visited the new £92m Haribo factory in Castleford, where staff had created a sweet in the shape of his head.

Image copyright WPA/Getty
Image caption Staff at the factory gave him a tour of the production areas
Image copyright Paul Ellis/PA
Image caption Prince Harry was presented with a box of sweets made just for him called Harry Mix

He was given a tour of the production and packing areas, before being handed a box of four specially-made bags of 'Harry Mix' sweets.

Managing director Herwig Vennekens said: "It's such a unique thing we could do to thank him for coming and spending time with employees. It was really worth the effort.

"He brought so many smiles to the faces of the staff."

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