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Ramsdale lifts young fan's spirits during lockdown

14 Jul 2020

Twelve-year-old George explains how support of AFC Bournemouth goalkeeper helped him cope with a lockdown life made tougher by a kidney disorder

For long spells of the COVID-19 pandemic, a hospital room in Bournemouth has been home for 12-year-old George.

A week before the lockdown, George had a kidney disorder called nephrotic syndrome diagnosed and the tests and treatments for it have been a significant strain for him and his family, especially during the pandemic.

"He has been in hospital for a long time; we have been in and out for the past 14 weeks," says his dad, Chris. "One time we had a six-week stint and were here [in the hospital] for the whole period.

"I knew George was struggling physically and mentally. He is such an active boy, so being bed ridden just really broke my heart."

To lift his son's spirits, Chris got in touch with his son's beloved AFC Bournemouth to see if the club could help.

Surprise phone call

The response was beyond their wildest dreams as first-team goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale surprised George with a phone call. 

"I thought we might get sent an autograph or something," Chris says. "When Aaron phoned it could not have come at a better time."

George has had to cope with a change of diet, learning how to inject himself every evening as well as having numerous invasive tests. So, Ramsdale's call was a perfect pick-me-up.

"The day he phoned I was having such a painful and bad day because I had loads of tests taken," George says.

"My first thoughts when he called were if it was actually him. When I realised it was, my instant reaction was, honestly, I cried! The nurses came in and asked if I was OK.

"I want to thank Aaron for everything he's done. It has made the last couple of weeks a lot easier for me."

Reaching out to community

George is one of more than 3,600 people in the local community to whom AFC Bournemouth have reached out during the coronavirus pandemic.

The club's Community Sports Trust identified supporters vulnerable during the pandemic and have got in contact with them, helping them with their mental health as well as tackling feelings of isolation.

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For George, the club's support got even better than a call on his 12th birthday as Ramsdale paid him a socially distanced visit.

"George was having a drive-by party, and they were sitting in the garden so I went over and gave him a pair of gloves," Ramsdale says.

"His dad still keeps in touch, or I drop him a message every now and then asking how George is. He's a lot healthier than what he was before, he's fighting."

Although he is still waiting for further results, George feels "110 per cent better" in himself thanks to the support he has received.

"Everyone has been great," adds Chris. "The National Health Service has not let us down and been really supportive.

"For Aaron to go the extra mile has been amazing. He really has helped a lot."

More lockdown stories

See: Coronavirus, clubs and community

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