Sheffield United stars bring Christmas cheer to young patients across the city
Sheffield United stars helped to put a smile on the faces of youngsters and their families during a series of Christmas visits to hospitals, hospices and children’s centres around the city.
Players and coaching staff took time out of preparations for Saturday’s Premier League clash at Brighton to spread some festive cheer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Weston Park Cancer Charity, Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice, St Luke's Hospice, Cavendish Cancer Care, the Becton Centre and Paces at High Green on Tuesday afternoon.
They were joined by members of the U23 squad and women’s first team, with the players split into small groups at each venue.
Staff and players spent time chatting to patients and their families as well as posing for pictures, signing autographs and handing out presents to youngsters.
Boss Chris Wilder visited Weston Park where he was joined by chairman Prince Musa'ad and chief executive Stephen Bettis, while first team stars John Fleck, Ollie Norwood, Oli McBurnie and Enda Stevens plus Sam Tierney and Sophie Barker all popped into the Children’s Hospital.
Speaking to the Star during the visit, midfielder Norwood said: “It puts things into reality and how fortunate we are and the position we are in as footballers.
“You can turn up for a few hours to see the children that are poorly and put a smile on their face at such a hard time for them and their families at a time when we should all be celebrating as families and enjoying Christmas time together as a family.
“I have done a lot (of these visits) before. I’ve done one every year for the last 10 years. You enjoy coming but obviously it’s also upsetting and it’s not nice seeing young children poorly at this time of year or any time of year.
“If we can put a quick smile on their face and give them 10 minutes of our time then it’s something we can do.”
One patient the Blades stars visited was 13-year-old Lydia Rodgers from Doncaster.
She is receiving treatment for pneumonia, flu, sepsis and strep, all of which she has been suffering with for two weeks.
The brave teenager also has hemiplegic cerebral palsy and suffered a neonatal stroke before she was born.
But her mum Jane said the visit from the United players had ‘brightened up’ Lydia’s day.
“I know they are busy and it’s a busy time of year, but to actually take time out and to come and spend time with the kids is really good,” said Jane, who is hoping her daughter will be discharged from hospital for Christmas.
Dave McCarthy, United's operations director, said the visits are a special day that the players, management and staff look forward to each year.
"To be able to visit these places on the same day and spread a little happiness to patients, their families, volunteers and staff means a great deal to everyone at the club," he said.