Armed with presents ranging from iPads to cuddly toys the Manchester United first team players set out to put a smile on the face of the many children and teenagers who will spend this Christmas in hospital.
After heading up a team of players this time last year, Patrice Evra returned to the Christie with Wayne Rooney, Ji-Sung Park and Tom Cleverley, while the rest of the first team squad embarked on a 13 ward tour of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
“The players organise who goes where between themselves and it’s something we all enjoy doing,” said Evra. “I’ve always felt at home in Manchester and I’ve been visiting the young oncology unit for the last five years. We load up the presents and just let ourselves in! No one really knows we’re coming, that way we can spend as much time as possible with the patients – and it really is an honour to meet these brave young men and women.”
Rio Ferdinand commented at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital: “To come here and put a smile on the face of any of the kids in the wards is very special. It is really tough for children who have to stay in hospital over Christmas so if we can make them happy then it’s a great thing.”
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez added: “It’s very special for us to leave the patients knowing they are feeling happy. It’s lovely to see them open their presents and to think we have made their Christmas a little more special.”
Phil Jones, who has paid his first visits to the hospitals this year, said: “It’s great to come and give the children gifts at Christmas. It’s obviously difficult for them being in hospital during this time so it’s nice to be able to put smiles on their faces.”
After witnessing first-hand the delight the players brought to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Wendy Rennison, Charity Relationship Manager at the Manchester United Foundation said:
“We always try and come as near to Christmas as possible because we know these are the children who will be in hospital over festive period. It’s an awful time of year to have to deal with being in hospital and the players do their best to make sure the patients and their families get a moment they will treasure.”