Patients at the Oxford Children's Hospital were excited this week to meet a Formula One star of the future, Brazilian racing driver Lucas di Grassi.
Lucas is currently part of the Renault Driver Development programme, based in Enstone and affiliated to the world-championship winning ING Renault F1 Team. Lucas was runner-up in the 2007 GP2 championship -- the series which served as a training ground for stars like Lewis Hamilton before they moved into F1.
Now that the racing season has finished, Lucas was able to take some time out to visit the Children's Hospital on the John Radcliffe site in Headington, along with the Renault F1 Team's Head of HR, Donna Biskup. They visited several of the wards, where Lucas chatted to the children and gave out signed baseball caps and postcards. Peter Richards, Consultant Neurosurgeon, showed the visitors around and said, "It was brilliant to see the way the children's faces lit up! Lucas's visit really did provide a fun distraction for them. He was great with the children too -- chatting to them and putting them at ease."
Lucas also visited the terrace play area in the hospital that the team has sponsored, and saw some of the young patients testing out a fleet of mini formula one cars.
Andrew House, Head of Major Gifts for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Charitable Funds, explained that, "Renault F1 Team have been great supporters of our 0x00a315million fundraising campaign to build the Children's Hospital, by making a very significant donation and also giving us these fun toy cars, which the children love. It was great to be able to show Lucas and Donna what a difference their support has made. Donations like theirs have enabled us to create one of the best children's hospitals in the country."
Lucas di Grassi commented: "It was wonderful to meet and talk to the children at the Oxford Children's Hospital. I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to live out my dream by pursuing my racing career. But the determination and courage you have to show at the wheel, are nothing compared to what these children tackle and overcome every day. It has been a privilege and an inspiration to meet them, and I am proud to be part of a team that is committed to supporting the local community."
The Children's Hospital opened its doors in January this year and has already helped tens of thousands of patients. It is a bright, colourful space, designed to make children and their families feel as comfortable as possible.
If you would like to get involved and support the Children's Hospital please contact Penny Hambridge on 01865 743445 or visit our website at: www.oxfordradcliffe.nhs.uk/getinvolved