Catherine Zeta Jones' visit brings a smile to faces of brave youngsters
FILM star Catherine Zeta Jones brought smiles to the faces of seriously ill youngsters during an emotionally-charged hospital visit.
The Oscar-winner and mother of two — whose actor husband Michael Douglas underwent a tough fight against cancer — took time out of shooting her latest blockbuster with fellow countryman Sir Anthony Hopkins in London to travel to Cardiff to launch a fundraising drive.
The Noah's Ark Children's Hospital of Wales was unveiled as the new name for a specialist facility in the Welsh capital — and counts 43-year-old Catherine as one of its biggest supporters.
The Swansea-born actress, who opened the facility in 2006, made sure her diary was clear so she could take part in the renaming ceremony yesterday.
She said: "The hospital has always been a cause close to me.
"As a mother, the plight of some of the children has never failed to pull at my heart strings.
"When I was asked to unveil the new name of the children's hospital, I jumped at the chance."
The hospital treats around 25,000 young people and 75,000 outpatients each year and provides life-saving treatment to critically-ill youngsters as well as expert skills for those with conditions requiring specialist care.
Yesterday's visit by Catherine was her first since 2010, when she attended a function to celebrate the tenth anniversary of children's charity Noah's Ark Appeal – the hospital's official charity.
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.
Chicago and Zorro star Catherine described the generosity of people as amazing.
"Even in these dark financial times, people are still donating money to this wonderful hospital," she said.
"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 through.
"I often talk about it to friends of mine back in the States — it's something I'm very passionate about."
Following a lengthy tour of the hospital, which also saw Catherine sign several autographs, she hopped in the back of a Land Rover to catch up with family members back in Swansea.
She quipped: "Whenever I come home, I always seem to bring the rain with me.
"Literally the moment I crossed the Severn Bridge it started chucking it down.
"But nevertheless, it's always great to come home."