Star gymnast inspired to become hospital ambassador by paralysed Harry Potter stuntman

Hospital patient Oluwaseun Kolare poses with Max Whitlock's Olympic medal as he visits the Coxen Ward for children and young adults at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
Hospital patient Oluwaseun Kolare poses with Max Whitlock's Olympic medal as he visits the Coxen Ward for children and young adults at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

Olympic, World and Commonwealth medal winning gymnast Max Whitlock visited the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital last night to bring young patients some festive cheer.

Hemel star Max decided to become an ambassador for the charity after being inspired by the positive attitude and determination of RNOH patient and friend David Holmes, former stuntman to Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.

David was rehearsing a flying scene – recognised as one of the most dangerous in the business – during filming on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when he suffered a horrific accident. He was hurled into a wall, breaking his neck, and leaving him paralysed for life.

Max who has been nominated for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award after winning five medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and a silver medal at this year’s World Championships, was announced earlier this year as an ambassador for the RNOH Charity Redevelopment Appeal.

He spent time on the ward speaking with young patients, some of whom will be spending their Christmas on the ward.

Max said he felt fortunate to have had time to listen to some ‘inspiring stories’ from patients.

He said: “I am really pleased to visit the RNOH and meet these young brave patients. They all talk about the incredible treatment they have received at the RNOH.”

Max also announced the winners of the Great RNOH Weight-Off Challenge. The challenge began in early October and gave competitors six weeks to get fit for Christmas. Entrants battled it out to raise the most money for the RNOH Charity’s Hospital Redevelopment Appeal while also competing to lose the most weight. At least £2,283 has been raised so far as part of the competition, with more money expected to roll in over the coming weeks as the scales are tallied.

Rosie Stolarski, director of fundraising and development at The RNOH Charity, said: “It was very moving to see the excitement on the children’s faces as they met one of the nation’s sporting heroes. It was a wonderful treat for them all just as Christmas approaches.

“The Great RNOH Weight-Off Challenge has also been a fantastic competition that has helped create a great atmosphere amongst our staff. Teams have been able to shed a few extra pounds before Christmas – both physically and financially!

“I’m really pleased that Max has been able to join us to visit children ahead of Christmas and to announce the winner of our competition – it is brilliant to have such a committed Ambassador.”