Saddlers stars proved a seasonal hit when they visited patients at Fair Oaks Day Hospice at the Walsall Palliative Care Centre.
The day hospice Nurse Manager Tracey Grinell said “We’re really pleased that the footballers came back to the hospice for a second year running.
“The patients really looked forward to seeing them; a lot of the residents support Walsall as their local team and have done for a number of years so were particularly excited.”
Visits like this one, which took place earlier this month, feature as part of the service’s ‘diversional therapy’ programme where the patients get involved in activities that act as a distraction from their life-limiting illness.
“If we can encourage patients to stay as well as they can be then we can often prevent patients from hitting a crisis and being admitted to hospital,” added Tracey.
Cancer sufferer Theresa Churchley has been coming to the day hospice for just over three years and was pleased as punch to see the team, She was joined by her son Victor who has also been a long-time supporter of the squad.
“It’s been really lovely to see them – they’ve all been so nice to chat to,” said the 93-year-old. “Victor and I have always been fans and now I can say I’ve had a picture with the boys!”
“The staff put on all sorts of entertainment for the patients so it’s great to see not just the patients, but the staff being able to have some fun as they work so hard to give people like my mum great care” added 65-year-old Victor.
“What’s funny is that is that I’ll offer to take her out and she’ll say “No I go to the day hospice on a Thursday” because she loves being able to socialise here.”
Walsall FC supporter John Ball, 83, lost his sight 12 years ago but it hasn’t stopped him keeping up to date with his favourite team.
“I go as far back as watching Saddlers legends the likes of Albert McPherson, left winger Colin Taylor and even manager Harry Hibbs.
“It’s strange really as although I listen to the radio now and I know the boys’ names, because I’ve been blind for so long it means that I have no idea what the new boys look like! Having spoken to them today though they seem to be smashing lads.”
John has bowel cancer and visits the day hospice weekly and also attends the Palliative Care Centre twice a week for chemotherapy.
“They’ve said I may live two years but I can’t live in fear. I could live ten years so I’m living each day as it comes and with a positive mind.”
Peter Noble, 93, has been coming to day hospice since August. He has prostate cancer and struggles with joint pain.
“It’s been really nice to see the boys. We’re really grateful to the team for letting us have the chance to do something like this – it’s a lovely place to be.”
Walsall FC manager Jon Whitney said: “Days like this puts things into perspective. Life can be hard but there’s always someone in a worse situation that you. It’s inspiring to see them all so happy and we’ve loved visiting them.”