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Families of poorly children get new place to stay

Former Southampton FC footballer Francis Benali has opened a new accommodation facility for families of children in hospital.

The new Ronald McDonald House Southampton is a "home away from home" for families who need to stay near their children while they are being treated at Southampton Children's Hospital and nearby Princess Anne Hospital.

Francis Benali has lent his support to Southampton facility for families Credit: PA Images

Benali was joined by Fiona Dalton, chief executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Simon Fradd, trustee of Ronald McDonald House Charities, for a ceremony to mark the opening of the house, which has 53 en-suite bedrooms as well as communal kitchens, lounges and playrooms.

The full-back said: "It's an honour and a privilege to be here to open such an incredible facility. I want to do alI I can to encourage people to support the house and spread the word about how much it helps families in their time of need."

During the opening ceremony, guests heard from Sandra Brown, a mother from Jersey, who is among the first to stay at the Ronald McDonald House while her son Jack, 15, is being treated for bleeding on the brain.

She said: "The Ronald McDonald House has brought normality back into our life. It's been a godsend. I have been able to stay near Jack while he is being treated in hospital and not worry about the expense of travel to and from Jersey or paying for accommodation. It will always have a special place in my heart".

There are 14 Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK that in 2014 provided a place to more than 6,000 families who had children in hospital.

Francis Benali describes his 1,000 miles of torture...

Saints legend Francis Benali - who made more than 300 appearances for Southampton Football Club - returned to St Mary's this weekend, at the end of his marathon charity event. His aim - to raise money for Cancer Research - by visiting all 20 Premier League Grounds. He joined Fred and Sangeeta in the studio along with sports therapist Kelly Rutledge

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Fred and Francis discuss the 1,000-mile challenge

Fred with Francis Benali after today's interview Credit: David Meikle

He's run the equivalent of two marathons a day for three weeks. In all, 1,000 miles. A test of endurance for any sportsman or woman!

Saints legend Francis Benali - who made more than 300 appearances for Southampton Football Club - returned to St Mary's this weekend, at the end of his marathon charity event. His aim - to raise money for Cancer Research - by visiting all 20 Premier League Grounds.

Francis came in to meet Fred and the team after his 1, 000 mile run.

Former footballer finishes cancer challenge

Francis Benali will finish his 'Big Run' in Southampton today Credit: Francis Benali

Former footballer Francis Benali was greeted by thousands of fans today as he finished his 'Big Run' challenge at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton.

The former defender is aiming to raise up to £1m for Cancer Research by running to every Premier League football ground - a journey of 1,000 miles in just more than three weeks.

Francis Benali one week into his 'Big Run'

Now former Southampton defender Francis Benali is one week into his 'Big Run' which sees him running to every Premier League ground in the country.

The challenge, which aims to raise more than one million pounds for Cancer Research means he has to complete around 50 miles every day for three weeks.

Yesterday he arrived at Burnley from where he spoke to us about what had been a difficult day.

For more information on the run and how to donate click here

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