Preston North End’s players made a little girl’s dreams come true when they made their annual Christmas hospital visit.
Big PNE fan Kloe Galea’s smile lit up the room when a host of her footballing heroes, including the injured Joe Garner, visited her bedside in the children’s ward at Royal Preston Hospital, in Sharoe Green Lane North, Fulwood, yesterday.
The eight-year-old, from Ribbleton, is suffering from St Vitus’ dance, Sydenham’s chorea – a neurological manifestation of rheumatic fever – and is hoping to be home in time for Christmas.
And her grandma Angela Masterson revealed the ill youngster was counting down the days until she met her heroes, and wore her brand-new PNE strip especially for the visit.
She said: “We told her they would be coming last Friday and she has been so excited to meet them.
“She has been miles better today because of the visit.
“It started suddenly two weeks ago and we are hoping to get her home for a few days over Christmas.
“But this visit has made her Christmas and made her dreams come true.”
Ahead of their clash against Notts County tonight, North End took time out from preparation to donate lots of toys, games and goodie bags to the children on the ward.
Winger Kyel Reid said: “It is important, especially at a time like this coming up to Christmas, that we can come down, give out some gifts and hopefully put a smile on the kids’ faces.
“Some of the children might not get a chance to spend Christmas at home with their families or get to open their presents with their loved ones.
“As a father myself, I think it’s a big thing that we take the time and effort to come down, have a little chat to the kids and their parents and give them a bit of hope.”
Karen Seed, play leader at the Royal Preston Hospital, revealed the presence of the players was like a ray of sunlight.
She said: “It brightens everyone’s day. You can see how much the kids enjoy it, the parents are happy and the staff are all happy. It lifts the mood.
“The gifts really help and make a difference because we can’t just go out and buy these ourselves. We are grateful.”
North End left back David Buchanan mentors children in schools and he believes the visit puts everything in perspective.
He said: “It is important for us to give back to the community.
“My youngest is 18 months and there are kids here of a similar age.
“There is that phrase ‘your health is your wealth’ and it puts everything in perspective.
“When you see a young child in pain it is heartbreaking.
“My heart goes out to all of the families.
“It is good to talk to the mums and dads to try and take their minds off it.”