Selfless paramedic left speechless after Christmas surprise
A paramedic at London Ambulance Service who has delivered thousands of Christmas presents to sick children was given a surprise visit to meet his Manchester United heroes.
For more than a decade, Nigel Flanagan KAM has organised collections for children and families in need at Christmas.
This year a team at BBC Breakfast decided the selfless paramedic – and massive Man United fan – deserved the ultimate gift this Christmas.
And millions of BBC viewers watched as Nigel was left stunned as he came face to face with his heroes including star Marcus Rashford and manager Erik ten Hag.
Dad-of-three Nigel said: ““I’m actually here, it’s a dream, it’s a dream, it’s amazing,” and later reflected, “on the way, I kept thinking, ‘where are we?’
“When we arrived and saw the iconic Man United sign I was speechless. Loads of things were going through my head – I was gobsmacked.”
Nigel and his family were also given a tour of the stadium and left with a shirt signed by all the players.
Nigel admitted he was above all inspired by one particular player – for his work both on and off the pitch.
He said: “It was amazing to meet Marcus Rashford – he’s a very grounded person and told me to continue my hard work!
“He’s such a hero and a role model to me. I admire the fact that he never forgets his roots and goes to such lengths to support people in his community.”
Earlier this year the 38-year-old received the King’s Ambulance Medal to recognise the time he has volunteered to support London’s communities on top of an already busy job.
In 2009, he set up Operation Christmas Present to make sure that children, sadly away from home on Christmas day, can wake up to a present.
Since then, Nigel has delivered over 30,000 presents and visited more than 400 hospitals, children’s A&Es, and women and children’s refuges with his team of trusted ‘helpers’ from London Ambulance Service, who also volunteer their own time.
The BBC clip, which aired on Christmas Day, also showed Nigel at Evelina London Children’s Hospital meeting some of the families who benefit from Operation Christmas Present.
Sue Pruden, play services manager at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Nigel and his colleagues from London Ambulance Service.
“Their generous donation makes a huge difference to the experience of our families who spend time at Evelina London over the festive period.
“We try to make Christmas as special as possible, and this includes being able to give a present to every patient.”