Surprise! Catherine Zeta-Jones breaks from filming with Bruce Willis to visit young cancer patient in Cardiff children's hospital
Actress unveiled new name of Noah's Ark Children's Hospital For WalesMet nine-year-old Phoebe Taylor and other young patients
15:35 GMT, 9 November 2012
Her husband Michael Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2010, and the couple have a nine-year-old daughter called Carys.
So Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones' visit to a Cardiff children's hospital where she met a nine-year-old cancer patient was one with a very personal relevance.
The Hollywood star took a short break
from filming Red 2 with Bruce Willis and Sir Anthony Hopkins in London
to spend a day at the Children's Hospital For Wales in Cardiff, to
officially unveil its new name: The Noah's Ark Children's Hospital For
Catherine Zeta-Jones chats with Phoebe Taylor, 9, from Llandough, after she took part in a renaming ceremony for Noah's Ark Children's Hospital of Wales
The mum-of-two – who won a best
supporting actress Oscar in 2003 for her role in Chicago – met with
little Phoebe Taylor, nine, and other patients at the hospital.
She and her husband have
played an integral role in helping to raise the 64 needed to build the centre.
a tight-fitting black skirt suit with a poppy on her lapel, the
43-year-old A-lister chatted with Phoebe and Phoebe's mother, Zoe.
Mrs Taylor said: 'It was a lovely
surprise. We had no idea this was happening today. We thought she'd be
in bed waiting for an operation – not meeting a Hollywood actress!'
Phoebe Taylor, nine, and her mother Zoe, left, meet Catherine Zeta-Jones at the children's hospital
Swansea-born actress is a patron of The Noah's Ark Appeal, set up to
raise funds for the building, and she officially opened the hospital in
'The appeal has already donated 12m to the hospital and is on
course to raise an additional 8m by 2015.
The Ocean's Twelve actress and her husband, actor Michael Douglas, donated a five-figure sum to The Noah’s Ark Appeal in 2005.
The hospital treats around 25,000 young people and 75,000 outpatients
each year. It provides life-saving treatment to critically ill
youngsters as well as expert skills for those with conditions requiring
Catherine Zeta-Jones at the hospital with Neve Ritchie, six
Bosses hope having the Noah's Ark name in its title will boost donations
further, with its latest target being 8 million for an intensive care
unit for ill youngsters as well as a hydrotherapy pool.
about the challenge to raise the capital, Zeta-Jones said: 'I truly
believe that the human nature of giving is unrelenting – even in dark
financial times people are still donating money to this wonderful
She continued: 'The bravery of children and their
parents who come here really hits home. Coming here today, you cannot
help but be moved by some of the stories and battles children are going
'I often talk about it to friends of mine back in the States – it's something I'm very passionate about. It's
great to see the new construction work going on. I feel like I've been
here since it’s conception. I really feel like family here.'
Zeta-Jones said: 'I truly believe that the human nature of giving is unrelenting – even in dark financial times people are still donating money to this wonderful hospital'
Scores of parents at the hospital
today said they were stunned when they discovered they would be coming
face to face with Hollywood royalty.
Davies, 36, of Tonyrefail, taking her 14-year-old daughter Demi for
treatment for a brain tumour when she found out on the radio that
Zeta-Jones was visiting.
been a fan of hers since The Darling Buds Of May,' said Mrs Davies. 'I
don't at first think Demi knew who she was, but when she realised she
was meeting a movie star she was over the moon.
Zeta-Jones's visit means a lot because to everyone here because she is
doing so much to help raise the profile of the hospital.'
Catherine Zeta Jones waves goodbye on the balcony before she leaves the newly named Noah's Ark Children's Hospital of Wales
That sentiment was
shared by 38-year-old Caerphilly mother Claire Curtis, whose
three-year-old daughter Maisie has a rare genetic condition called
pontocerebellar hypoplasia type two.
Sufferers are born with a severely underdeveloped cerebellum – the part of the brain that co-ordinates movement.
Curtis said: 'Maisie is the only child in Wales with this condition and
I don't know what we'd do without the help we get from the hospital.
not just about the excellent treatment she gets, but also the support
we've had as a family. You can feel so powerless as a parent when your
child is so seriously ill.'
Catherine Zeta-Jones arriving at the children's hospital in Cardiff, left, and with her husband Michael Douglas in California, right
Catherine Zeta-Jones with her husband Michael Douglas and their children Dylan, 12, and Carys, nine