Football stars from Charlton Athletic FC and Millwall Football Club visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) this week, to pass on Christmas cheer and deliver gifts to sick babies, children and cancer patients.
The players and club staff arrived with sacks of presents and spent the afternoon playing Santa. First stop for both teams were our children’s wards, where many of our young patients will be spending Christmas.
Taking time out of their busy training schedules, the players spent time with parents of babies in the Neonatal Unit at UHL, as well as meeting patients in the Macmillan Brook Unit at QEH and Suite 8 at UHL which both specialise in cancer care.
Patient on Macmillan Brook Unit, Norman Wade, from New Eltham said: “I'm all choked up! What a wonderful surprise."
Johnnie Jackson, Charlton Assistant Coach said: “We’ve just come down here to Queen Elizabeth like we do every year just to go around the ward, see the children downstairs, come up here and see some of the adults who are in hospital over Christmas. It’s obviously never nice for them, but especially over the festive period. We’re just trying to put a few smiles on faces, going to the wards, giving out presents to the kids, some chocolates to the older people.
"We just met Norman Wade and his wife. He got a bit emotional that we’d come in to see him. He’s a lifelong Charlton fan, all his family, his grandkids go to games, so it was a bit of a surprise when we walked in and he saw some familiar faces.”
Carol Sullivan-Wallace, Play Specialist, QEH said: "We would like to send our very special thanks to the wonderful football team at Charlton Athletic who came to visit us. It was a great delight to see the very many happy smiley faces of the children, families and staff on the unit when they arrived."
Millwall player Shaun Hutchinson remarked: “It is always a very humbling experience to visit the staff and patients at University Hospital Lewisham. You can’t begin to imagine just how tough it is to be suffering with ill-health at this time of year. It certainly provides a lot of perspective when you hear what some families are going through. It is clear how much of an impact the amazing staff have and I can’t praise them highly enough for their work day-in, day-out.”
Sharon Justice, Lead Play Specialist at UHL commented: “It’s always wonderful to see the Millwall players and staff. The patients love meeting them. They’re really generous with their time and gifts, and pose for lots of photos. They take their time and speak to everyone, and we very much appreciate that.”