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Clubs at Christmas: Hospital visits bring festive cheer

26 Dec 2022
Everton visit Alder Hey - Alex Iwobi with a patient

Premier League players and managers help raise the spirits of patients and staff at local hospitals

Premier League clubs have reiterated their commitment to supporting their local communities with the return of their traditional festive visits to local hospitals to meet patients and staff who cannot be at home over the Christmas period.

Emile Smith Rowe joined fellow Arsenal men's and women's stars such as Aaron Ramsdale, Jordan Nobbs, and Oleksandr Zinchenko to visit Homerton, Whittington and Royal Free hospitals, handing out presents and spending time with the young patients and their families.

Brighton & Hove Albion players including Adam Lallana and Billy Gilmour were at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton and the Worthing Hospital to bring some festive cheer.

"It's absolutely great to come down and see the kids," Lallana told the official club website. "To put a smile on their faces is the least we can do just before Christmas. It puts things into perspective for all of us."

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery joined players such as Ollie Watkins and Jed Steer at Acorns Children’s Hospice and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Staff and patients at Compton Care, which supports people with incurable conditions, were delighted to welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers' first-team players including Nathan Collins and Maximilian Kilman. They handed out gifts, as well as blankets and scarves for the inpatient unit, meeting those who were well enough in person.

On Merseyside, local rivalries were put aside as stars from Liverpool and Everton led by Mohamed Salah and Alex Iwobi made their long-waited return to Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin fulfilled a year-long promise when he made a surprise Christmas visit to Everton supporter Dylan.

Calvert-Lewin first chatted with Dylan last year, when the 14-year-old had undergone a nine-hour emergency operation to deal with a brain aneurysm, which left him needing rehabilitation to assist with his mobility, speech and eyesight.

They could only speak remotely because of COVID-19 restrictions but this year, Calvert-Lewin made sure he was able to meet Dylan in person.

See: Calvert-Lewin shocks young Blue with Christmas visit

Chelsea midfielder Kai Havertz proved a big hit too, as he and his partner Sophia Weber donated their own gifts of club shirts, toys and games to bring a smile to the faces of patients, their parents and staff at St Mary’s Hospital.

Stars from West Ham United including Jarrod Bowen and Darren Randolph visited Saint Francis Hospice to spread some festive cheer with their local community.

Manchester United's Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford were among the players to film video messages and pack gift bags for patients, staff and families at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Francis House Children’s Hospice and The Christie.

"Supporting those in our local community is one of the most important things that we do as players and staff at Manchester United, especially around Christmas time," Maguire told the official club website.

"For us, sending well wishes and packing gifts for the hospitals, putting smiles on people's faces is really important."

Leeds United players helped to lift the spirits of patients, their families, and staff at Leeds Children's Hospital.

The players handed out goody bags, which included books, teddy bears, hats and scarves as well as chatting to the young patients and their loved ones.

"This is always a special visit for us to be a part of, the chance to meet and hopefully put smiles on the faces of some kids and their families who have been going through difficult times, especially at this time of year, I think it's really important," defender Luke Ayling told the club's official website.

"It really puts things into perspective when you realise that some people won't be able to spend Christmas at home, whether it’s the patients or the staff, so hopefully our visit today has let them know that we are thinking about them."

Also in this series

Part 1: PL clubs offer helping hand in tough times
Part 2: Premier League clubs show support during festive period

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