Prince Harry meets seriously ill Leeds boy and sees safe play garden makeover

Prince Harry meets Oliver Rooney (left) who has Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome, with his mum Elizabeth and brothers (left-right not given) Samuel, Jack, Joseph and Thomas at their home in Bramley. PIC: PA
Prince Harry meets Oliver Rooney (left) who has Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome, with his mum Elizabeth and brothers (left-right not given) Samuel, Jack, Joseph and Thomas at their home in Bramley. PIC: PA
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Prince Harry has visited the home of a seriously ill five-year-old boy on the second day of his visit to Leeds.

Oliver Rooney, of Bramley, has Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare chromosome disorder resulting in profound and complex needs.

Harry met Oliver, his family and a group of volunteers who are transforming his garden into a safe play space for WellChild’s 300th Helping Hands project.

The Prince sat in the living room of the three-bedroom semi-detached house and chatted to Oliver and his four brothers about school and their sleeping arrangements.

Later he sat round a garden table with the family and discussed sport and the garden makeover.

Elizabeth McOmish-Rooney, Oliver’s mother, told Harry 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.

The WellChild charity, which works with children suffering from serious illnesses or life-altering conditions, is carrying out the two-day project to turn the outside area into a space where Oliver can play.

After the Prince’s visit, Ms McOmish-Rooney, 44, said the visit was “something we’ll talk about forever”.

She added: “What a lovely man. The way he interacted with the boys was fantastic and he put us all at ease.”

She said the garden transformation would totally change their lives.

“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.

“With a family of five boys, that’s really important and important for Oliver too.

“Keeping him away from them, I don’t know what he’s thinking and feeling, but I know how I feel when I see him looking through the fence and not able to play.

“It’s going to make a massive difference.”

Harry later described the family as “lovely” and said of Ms McOmish-Rooney: “She is a superwoman.”

The Prince is also visiting Leeds Children’s Hospital and the Haribo sweet factory in Castleford.

On Thursday, Harry began his two-day Leeds visit with a speech at an event promoting mental well-being in the city and how organisations are helping young people.

He also visited Headingley Carnegie stadium, the home of Leeds Rhinos, where he watched and chatted to dozens of youngsters being introduced to rugby league.

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