Hugh Grant sends message as 'Paddington 2' character to fundraising 4-year-old fan with cancer

Tom ButlerSenior Editor
Yahoo Movies UK
Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in <em>Paddington 2</em>. (Studiocanal)
Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2. (Studiocanal)

A 4-year-old boy was “over the moon” to discover that Hugh Grant had reprised his Paddington 2 character Phoenix Buchanan to send him a message of support on Twitter.

The 59-year-old actor was responding to a video shared on Twitter by Graham and Rachel Bard, the parents of Nottingham resident Henry (@henry_the_brave), who has high risk stage 4 neuroblastoma.

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It showed young Henry, currently in lockdown, teaching his dad the dance Grant’s character does at the end of the the 2017 film. “Henry makes us laugh and smile everyday. We just wanted to try and make a few other people smile too,” Graham Bard explains to Yahoo Movies UK.

Grant responded with a video message captioned “Greetings from HMP Wormwood Scrubs”.

“Hello Henry, Phoenix Buchanan here,” the 40-second message begins.

“I’m sorry that you’ve been locked up for so long in your house. But, you know, I’ve been locked up for the last five years, and the great answer is dancing, and can I say, your dancing is quite remarkable. I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart.”

Read more: Hugh Grant updates on Phoenix Buchanan’s prison fate

Paddington 2 ends with conceited former actor Buchanan incarcerated for trying to steal treasure from Paddington, using a pop-up book that revealed the location of the loot. A scene that plays over the end credits shows Buchanan leading a production of Rain on the Roof from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Follies with the other inmates.

“I wish I could say the same about your dad’s dancing,” Grant as Buchanan goes on, “but alas, I can’t. Anyway I wish you all the best, and if you happen to see that pop-up book, do let me know.”

“We couldn’t believe it when we saw the reply from Mr Grant,” Graham Bard adds, who says Henry watches both Paddington films at least once a day.

“Not sure who was more excited, Daddy or Henry. H was genuinely over the moon, so excited he nearly exploded. ‘The ACTUAL Phoenix Buchanan’ is what he keeps reminding us. It's such as kind selfless thing to do, he didn't need to.”

The original thread was directed at new Channel 4 show Reasons To Be Cheerful with Matt Lucas, which is shining a light on the best at home activities being shared online. The first post in Henry’s Twitter thread showed the youngster enjoying his hair growing back following a recent chemotherapy treatment.

His family are currently fundraising for future treatments that may not be available on the NHS. It has raised over £12,000 so far on solvingkidscancer.org.uk.

“Henry is a very happy, clever little four-year-old who loves nothing more than dressing up as a firefighter with his little brother and best friend Oliver,” the fundraising page explains. “Henry is obsessed with anything fireman related and tells everyone what's going to happen when he’s old enough to go to firefighter school.”

“To get there Henry has to battle a disease no child should have to. He has high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40-50% chance of long-term survival at diagnosis.”

He fell ill before his fourth birthday and was referred to the Children’s Assessment Unit at the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC), Nottingham.

“Initially, it was suspected it was a virus or infection but in early June, whilst having an MRI scan, a large tumour was discovered in his abdomen. Further tests confirmed that he had high-risk neuroblastoma with n-myc amplification.”

He earned the nickname ‘Henry The Brave’ after undergoing ten months of treatment.

“Henry's treatment is going well. He has had a brutal ten months including ten rounds of chemo, eight hour surgery (Christmas in Hospital), high dose chemo and a stem cell transplant,” Bard tells us.

“He is genuinely my hero, he just takes everything that has been thrown at him, yet he’s still so full of life and happiness. An inspiration to all of us. He was due to have radiotherapy now but it has been delayed due to the unknown impact of the pandemic. instead he has started immunotherapy today at the Queens Medical Centre Nottingham.”

Hugh Grant’s message to Henry was played by Greg James on his BBC Radio 1 breakfast show, with Henry’s family revealing that the actor was personally contributing to Henry’s fundraiser.

“We've seen a huge increase in followers on Twitter and a few donations to his main fundraising page,” Bard adds. “I challenged the Twitter world with my 26p pledge a few days ago. I would donate 26p for every new follower or retweet of the pledge.

“Before Hugh's video we had about three new followers, we even lost one the first night. Now we've had over 250 new followers and 4 people have agreed to match my pledge... including Mr Phoenix Buchanan. Pledge currently sits at around £90 per person so we would love it if more people would take the gamble and match the pledge or just help us get some more followers. The 26 Reasons to be Cheerful really does what it's meant to, the more people that see it the better.”

Reasons To Be Cheerful with Matt Lucas airs on Channel 4, 7:30pm Sunday. Paddington 2 is currently streaming on BBC iPlayer.

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