EXCLUSIVE Pictures Olivia Shaw/Rays of Sunshine/Scope Features. Words by Patrick Hill ..
But this is an extra special treat from the big-hearted pop stars, and these are no ordinary children.
Meeting Britain’s biggest boyband definitely doesn’t happen every day in their world.
And singers Aston Merrygold, JB Gill, Marvin Humes and Oritsé Williams are delighted to be able to spread a little Christmas joy and hope for hundreds of courageous and seriously ill children.
The hunky hitmakers provided an early surprise Christmas present by turning up at a party for over 250 children suffering from long term and life-threatening illnesses.
The lads couldn’t wait to meet and play with young fans at the bash in aid of Rays Of Sunshine, a charity which makes the special wishes of sick kids come true.
Aston, 25, explains: “If you can give up a couple of hours of your time to help these kids it’s brilliant. They are incredible, and it’s wonderful to be able to put a smile on their faces.”
The band have an extra surprise for the children as Marvin, 27, brings along 23-year-old wife Rochelle from all-girl chart-toppers The Saturdays.
The stars are quick to get stuck in as JB, 25, steps up for a challenge on a dance simulator alongside seven-year-old heart block patient Amber Howe from Sittingbourne, Kent.
Afterwards a smiling Amber, who urgently requires heart surgery, beams: “I’m really excited. I didn’t expect to have JLS come to our party. They’re my favourites.”
Her mum Alison adds: “Having a visit from her heroes like this is as good as any medicine. It just inspires her to go on. We can’t say a big enough thank-you!”
Ten-year-old Joshua Ayling is also full of smiles today, despite having undergone no fewer than 35 operations to combat a rare form of hydrocephalus.
He’s just teamed up with Aston to knock down piles of tin cans at a throwing gallery – which earns him a high five from his new pop star pal.
“I’m not lucky – but I feel lucky on days like this!” he says. “It cheers me up.”
Big-hearted Oritsé is clearly moved by the youngsters he meets today.
“This is the best part of stardom,” says the 25-year-old. “We feel we’re giving something back to the people who helped make us successful. It’s great to be able to put a smile on the faces of these kids who endure so much every day.”
And the lads make sure everyone gets a chance to say hello as they play games and join in activities.
The bash makes the kids themselves feel like celebs for a day as they enjoy face painting, cake decorating, arts and crafts, a graffiti wall, Scalextric, hook the duck and a photo booth.
To cap it all, there’s even a chance to meet Santa. Among the kids enjoying the fun at the Copthorne Tara hotel in London’s Kensington are courageous nine-year-old Ashanti Smith from Burgess Hill, West Sussex, who has a rare disease which makes her body age eight yearsb faster than any normal person.
The JLS boys also spend time with nine-year-old Grace Millar, who has liver disease, eight-year-old Mason Fountain, who has a brain tumour, and four-year-old Chloe Hollingsworth, who has spent nearly half her life having chemotherapy for kidney cancer.
All these children face battles on a daily basis, which is why JLS are so keen to give their time to Rays Of Sunshine.
The charity organises regular outings and events throughout the year for large groups of sick children aged up to 18.
Jane Sharpe, CEO of Rays Of Sunshine, is also full of smiles – and full of praise for Aston, JB, Oritsé, Marvin and Rochelle.
“The party is just magical,” she says. “It is absolutely wonderful to see all the children smiling and having so much fun.
“JLS popping in was just the icing on the cake. They are amazing ambassadors for the charity and are very much part of the Rays Of Sunshine family.”
To help make Christmas wishes come true for more children like Ashanti, Mason and Chloe and the other youngsters at the party visit raysofsunshine.org.uk
For more EXCLUSIVE unpublished pictures go to our website scopefeatures.com