Nobody wants to be spending Christmas in hospital and for children, it can be a particularly challenging time. In a bid to bring some Christmas joy to young patients and their families a visit from members of Plymouth Argyle Football Club was arranged.
First Team Coach Kevin Nancekivell and members of both the men’s and women’s teams visited the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust’s (UHP) children’s wards on level 12 in Derriford hospital last week for the first time after a two year break due to the pandemic.
Kevin said: "It's a really special day in the calendar at the club, and one we've missed out on over the past couple of years because of the pandemic. It was wonderful to see so many smiling faces.
"We live privileged lives in football, and it's very important that we as players and coaches stay connected with the people of our city and region. A few of hours of our time is the least we can offer to families who deserve all the love and support that the community can offer at Christmas time.
"We can learn a lot from the resilience and courage of the children, parents, and hard-working NHS staff that we meet on every visit."
As well as bringing gifts for the young patients, the players did meet and greets in the lounge areas of the Woodcock and Wildgoose wards where many of the patients, their families and staff got to talk to the players, take pictures with them and even get autographs.
The visitors were also escorted through Children’s Assessment Unit and Children and Young Peoples’ Outpatients department, as well as into the wards, in order to visit patients who were unable to attend the meet and greets.
Some of players were then invited down to UHP’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to meet the families of critically ill babies and bring the much needed gifts of joy and laughter to families going through tough times. Speaking about the visit, Carrie Jones, Interim Ward Manager for NICU, said: “Thank you to the staff and players of the men's and women's teams at Plymouth Argyle for taking the time to visit our parents on the neonatal unit. They were extremely grateful to see the team and also for the gifts brought for their babies.”
The green army were fondly welcomed by patients and staff alike across the areas they visited, including Sue Rodgers, Play Specialist Team Leader, who said: “It is wonderful to have the Plymouth Argyle teams come and visit the children and their families on the wards. They bring fun, laughter and a lot of smiles to everyone, including the staff.
“Having something exciting to distract our patients is invaluable and helps to reduce anxiety around being in hospital."