Prince Harry stopped by the home of a seriously ill five-year-old boy on Friday to wish him well and chat with the family.
Oliver Rooney, of Leeds, England, suffers from Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare chromosome condition that affects many parts of the body. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the most common features of this disorder include “a characteristic facial appearance, delayed growth and development, intellectual disability, and seizures.”
Harry, 32, met with Oliver and his family at their home in northern England, where a group of volunteers are transforming the backyard into a safe play space. The garden makeover is the 300th Helping Hands project from charity WellChild, of which Harry has been a patron since 2007.
The WellChild charity aims to provide practical and emotional support to seriously ill children and their families. The organization’s latest project is to create Oliver an outside area where he can play safely and happily with his four brothers.
During his visit, the Prince posed for photos and chatted with Oliver and his brothers – Samuel (9), Joseph (8), Thomas (6) and Jak (Oliver’s twin) – about school, sport, and sleeping arrangements.
The Royal later joined the family in the backyard to watch the makeover, and Oliver’s mother, Elizabeth McOmish-Rooney, told Harry that her son wasn’t able to use the backyard without constant close supervision and it meant he missed out on bonding time with his siblings.
She said that the transformation would completely change their lives. “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,” the 44-year-old mother told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “With a family of five boys, that’s really important and important for Oliver, too. It’s going to make a massive difference.”
McOmish-Rooney later described Harry as “a lovely man” and said that his visit was “something we’ll talk about forever.” She continued: “The way he interacted with the boys was fantastic, and he put us all at ease.”
Harry also had kind words to say about Ms. McOmish-Rooney, describing her as “a superwoman.”
After his visit with the Rooneys, the Prince will head to Leeds Children’s Hospital and the Haribo sweet factory in Castleford.