PREMIER league referee Howard Webb put a smile on the faces of young football fans when he visited Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in North Anston.
The superstar from Rotherham was at the hospice to launch a partnership between the Football League and the Help the Hospices charity.
Among those he met was Kian Critchley, aged five, one of the first children to attend the hospice when it opened three years ago, in September 2008.
Kian suffers three debilitating conditions - lissencephaly stroke polymicrogytia, epilepsy and cerebral palsy - which means he can’t talk or walk.
His parents Tony and Val, from Intake, Doncaster, rely on the hospice to provide respite care for their son’s medical needs.
Tony said: “Kian often only has two hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, which can leave us with no sleep and completely shattered.
“Because of his condition it’s difficult for our extended family to care for him and that’s where Bluebell Wood comes in.
“It’s a place of fun, laughter and smiles.”
The Football League is backing Hospice Care Week as part of its official charity partnership with Help the Hospices, the national charity for hospices.
Children and families were asked to share in one word what hospice care means to them - then hold the words up on signs.
Howard said: “If I had to choose one word that hospice care means to me it would be ‘support’.
“In the time I have been involved with Bluebell Wood I have been amazed by the lengths that hospice staff, volunteers and local people will go to in order to support seriously ill people and their families, helping them to live life to the full.
“All over the country local hospices like Bluebell Wood all need support - together they must raise £1.5 million every day to keep going.
“That’s why I am thrilled that every football league club is raising vital funds for its local hospice this season. If football fans apply the same passion and loyalty to their hospice as they do for their clubs, they can make an extraordinary difference to people with life-limiting and terminal illnesses.”
Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United and Doncaster Rovers are all supporting Bluebell Wood as part of the Football League’s partnership with Help the Hospices.
Hospice Care Week runs from October 8 to 14, and football league fans are being urged to find out more about the free care their local hospice provides.
Share the ‘one word’ hospice care means to you by emailing Bluebell Wood at email@example.com