X Factor contestants visit sick children at Shooting Star Chase

Ben takes a selfie with two siblings of a child supported by Shooting Star Chase SUS-140912-114608001

Ben takes a selfie with two siblings of a child supported by Shooting Star Chase SUS-140912-114608001

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X Factor semi-finalists visited Shooting Star Chase where the contestants met children with life-limiting conditions and their families ahead of the release of the X Factor charity single – some of the proceeds of which the leading children’s hospice charity will benefit from.

Ben Haenow, Fleur East, Lauren Platt and Andrea Faustini surprised a group of supported families from London and Surrey at one of the charity’s hospices, Shooting Star House; spending the afternoon seeing for themselves how the charity makes every moment count for children with life-limiting conditions.

The semi-finalists spent time talking with children, signing autographs, posing for photographs and taking part in Christmas arts and crafts.

Fleur East, who is now favourite to win the competition, said: “Before I came here I was quite nervous because I didn’t know what to expect – I’d never been to a children’s hospice before - but every single child here is so happy and so joyful and the staff are having fun with the children; it’s so lovely to see. You can tell they’re really happy here.”

Lauren Platt, who got voted out on Sunday (7th December), tells Shooting Star Chase about her experience of hospices: “Today has been fantastic and it’s such an honour to be asked to come down here. My cousin is in a hospice at the moment so we visit her and it’s nice to be here because it feels like we’re doing the best we can to help and raise awareness for a good cause.

“To know the money from the charity single is going to Shooting Star Chase is a warming feeling; it’s comforting and it brings a lot of people hope which is the most important thing. It’s hard having part of your family in a hospice; it’s not an ideal situation.

“These hospices make a world of difference and you expect them to be dark but I’ve never seen so much positively in one room. It’s nice knowing these places make the best out of a bad situation.”

Ben Haenow, 29 from Croydon and through to the final of the competition, said: “It’s a bit of an overwhelming experience coming here because you don’t know what to expect. But the mood in here is so incredibly positive.

“It’s an amazing place and we shouldn’t be downhearted about it because everyone is so happy. It breaks your heart though and makes everything else pale into insignificance.”

Jack, a 12 year old who lives in Horley and attends Christopher’s Children’s Hospice in Guildford, said: “It was awesome! I met all the contestants and we chatted about everything. I showed them my dinosaur toys and we talked about dinosaurs a lot. I think for once I’m speechless!”

Veronica, mother of Grace, a supported child at Shooting Star Chase who lives in Camberley, said: “I’m dumbfounded. We weren’t expecting it. We were told just to turn up and then the X Factor singers walked in! They’re all really down to earth.”

Karen Sugarman, Director of Fundraising for Shooting Star Chase, said: “It was brilliant to be able to welcome the X Factor semi-finalists to Shooting Star Chase.

The children and teenagers were so excited when they walked through the door. We’re so grateful they took time out of their busy rehearsal schedules to meet some of the amazing families we care for. It’s fantastic to be benefiting from the proceeds of the charity single – which I’m sure will make number 1 in no time!”

The X Factor winner’s single, which will be digitally released on the 14th December with the CD single in stores on the 17th December, will be in aid of Together for Short Lives. Syco will donate 100% of its profits from the sale of each CD single and download, and Together for Short Lives will distribute the funds raised to over 50 partner children’s charities, including Shooting Star Chase.

The two X Factor finalists will perform their prospective winner’s single live during The X Factor’s spectacular final at the SSE Wembley Arena and the song will be available to download immediately after The X Factor winner is crowned.

The single will be the seventh charity release from The X Factor and the third winner’s single with proceeds going to charity. Previous releases have raised millions of pounds for causes such as Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Help For Heroes.

Report and picture contributed by Shooting Star Chase.