On Wednesday 5th June, United mascot Fred the Red dropped in at The Christie and Francis House Children’s Hospice, giving patients and staff the chance to get close to the trophy and have their photograph taken with it.
At The Christie the trophy was displayed in the conservatory before being taken onto the Young Oncology Unit – the specialist teenage and young adult cancer wing for which the Manchester United Foundation helps to fundraise to improve facilities.
Twenty year-old out-patient Chris Heyes from Preston commented on the ‘perfect timing’ of the visit as he was on the ward for his last treatment of chemotherapy. “To see the trophy and to have my picture with it is a great experience,” he said. “It is amazing to see the support United has for The Christie and it puts a smile on everyone’s faces – when it is your favourite football club it’s an extra bonus!”
18 year-old Naomi Watkins from Blackpool added, “It was a really big surprise; nobody told us anything so when they walked through with the trophy Fred the Red just put his head round the corner to surprise us.” She continued, “I wasn’t meant to be here today as I don’t start chemo again until next week, so it was lucky, in a way, that we were here!”
In Didsbury, staff at Francis House invited young people who use the services of the hospice along to enjoy the special event. There were many Manchester United fans amongst the group and 17 year-old Jessica Donohoe from Worsley commented, “It’s really good of United to come here; I’m a big fan and it’s a great opportunity.”
Jessica’s mother, Janet, added, “The partnership with United has given Francis House the opportunity to expand so that the children can have more breaks away per year, usually it’s about 3-4 weekends per year but that’s increasing because they’ve got more facilities available.” She continued, “Also the high profile image of United is great to create awareness of the cause and of hospices, as I don’t think many people are that aware of hospices unless they have been directly involved with them; I would never have known if it wasn’t for Jessica.”
Reverend David Ireland, chief executive of Francis House, said, "We're very grateful for the support we receive from the Foundation. There was real excitement when Fred the Red arrived today and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience of seeing the trophy up close."
Find out more about Manchester United’s charity partnerships.