An eight-year-old leukaemia patient was thrilled when Philip Glenister, star of the BBC's Life on Mars series, dropped in to say hello.

Mr Glenister, who plays 1970s' cop, DCI Gene Hunt, in the hit show, took a break from his filming schedule up north to come back home to pay a visit to Holly Loveless.

Holly, who attends St Paul's Junior School, in Princes Road, was diagnosed as having acute lymphoblastic leukaemia a year ago.

She has chemotherapy and regular lumbar punctures, which will continue for two years.

Mr Glenister, 43, of East Sheen, whose two daughters Millie, four, and Charlotte, 18 months, were born at Kingston Hospital, is one of several actors lending their support to Momentum, which helps young cancer patients and their families.

The charity, set up in 2004 by parents of children receiving treatment at the hospital, is raising money for a sensory garden, which should cheer up the children while they are undergoing treatment.

Holly is busy growing flowers for it and work has already started on the £45,000 project, which has the theme, land, sea and sky and will incorporate rubber-paved areas and futuristic mood walls with constantly changing lighting.

"When the garden is complete, it will be a safe place for the children and their parents to go," Mr Glenister said. "At the moment, when they have to stay in the isolation wards for two or three weeks at a time, the rooms look out on a pretty grim play area.

"This will make life more bearable for them." Holly's mother, Fiona, 42, said she had impressed doctors and nurses with her cheeky smile and constant good humour.

She said: "The treatment is very difficult for a child to go through and has involved more than 60 injections.

"When Holly has to have the lumbar punctures they give her a general anaesthetic which she calls the dizzy medicine.

"She has coped really well with losing her hair because she knows it will grow back again.

"We have been so touched by the kindness of people in Kingston. The charity provides the most wonderful support for parents at a very difficult time in our lives."

Momentum, which is currently the sponsored charity of John Lewis in Kingston, has installed mini-fridges and air-conditioning into the hospital's isolation rooms.

It is embarking on a mosaic project for the entrance, with Kingston's award-winning charity Save the World Club, to make it more inviting.

Sunshine ward will have a sun-theme and Dolphin ward a sea-theme. For more information, visit