The Burnley FC squad delivered their annual round of Christmas cheer to youngsters in hospital as the manager and players visited wards in Burnley and Blackburn.
Clarets’ boss Sean Dyche and half of his senior squad went to Blackburn Royal Infirmary, which has the main children’s ward in the area, while club captain Tom Heaton led a group of his team-mates to see youngsters, parents and staff at Burnley General’s East Lancashire Child and Adolescent Service.
The players, along with members of Burnley FC in the Community, delivered hundreds of presents they had bought and spent time chatting with the children, young people, family members and hospital staff.
“At this time of year it’s a pleasure to do these visits, for many reasons,” said Dyche.
“Some of the players have grown with the club and are coming in to family life themselves, so they are always happy to pop along to see the young ones.
“But the main one, and the one we never lose sight of, is the fact there are poorly children in hospital at the wrong time of year and it’s nice to take a little time out to put a smile on some faces.
“It’s tough on the children, of course, but it’s also tough on the families. The staff at the hospital do such a wonderful job and I know from speaking to them that they like to get as many of the kids as possible home for the big day itself.
“But some aren’t so lucky and the very least we can do is hopefully help to spread a little Christmas cheer.”
Defender Stephen Ward was among those who went to Burnley General to offer their support to the youngsters benefiting from the child and adolescent service.
“It’s brilliant. It’s always a nice day and one the lads do look forward to and enjoy doing,” said the Ireland international.
“Christmas is a big time for families and children and it’s nice to be able to come here, give something back and meet some of the fantastic kids around the place.
“It’s also great for us to see the fantastic work the people in the hospital do and it’s a good day all round.”
The Clarets’ players ended the afternoon at Burnley FC in the Community’s Young Clarets Christmas Party at Turf Moor, signing autographs for hundreds of young fans.