Christmas came early at the Royal Preston Hospital as Preston North End’s players brought sackfuls of goodies and spread festive cheer in the children’s ward.
The North End players gave up their time and chipped in to fund a mountain of gifts for dozens of sick children who could face the prospect of spending Christmas Day at hospital.
One little girl who is hoping to get home for Christmas is six-year-old Kaydie Brown, from Penwortham.
The young PNE fan was admitted to hospital with pneumonia in August and has been on a ventilator in the children’s ward ever since.
Kaydie was wearing a PNE top and was unable to speak because of her breathing issues but her mother, Lisa, 34, said the day was a dream come true as Kaydie, along with eight-year-old brother Jayden, managed to meet their hero North End striker Joe Garner.
She said: “Kaydie has been in hospital for 139 days.
“Her lungs aren’t very good so we are waiting for a machine so we can take her home.
“Fingers crossed we get her home for Christmas.
“We are all big PNE fans and big Joey Garner fans. They have got everything you could ever imagine North End, the only thing they can’t do is go and see them because we can’t take Kaydie. It is great, even I’m starstruck. It is great that they have taken the time to come and see all the children. They’ve let Jayden walk around with them and he is in his element. You get bad news, and then you get something like this and it lifts your spirits and makes it better – it has made their dreams come true.”
Dad Bobby listens to the matches on the radio with Kaydie at hospital.
He said: “It has brightened up our Christmas.”
Ward manager Claire Beattie thanked the players for giving up their time ahead of Sunday’s Championship clash at Leeds, and for spending their own cash on a host of presents that included X-Box games, jigsaws, board games and toys.
And North End hero Joe handed out special PNE goodie bags with the other players, chatted to the youngsters and said it was nice to give something back to the community.
Joe said he hopes Kaydie, and all of the other children at the hospital get well soon and manage to get home for Christmas.
He said: “It is sad to see them in their beds not well but it is nice to give a little bit back.
“Everyone wants their kids home for Christmas.
“It means a lot to us to see them smile, we are here to make the kids happy and I hope they all get well and get home soon.”
North End fan Freddie Cunningham, eight, from Chorley was in hospital due to an eye injury and wants to be a footballer when he is older.
He said: “I never thought something like this would happen. It has been great.”
PNE forward and father Paul Gallagher says it is important to make the children – and parents – feel special during this difficult time.
He said: “You just want to put a smile on their faces.
“I remember going to Blackburn Hospital when I played for Blackburn Rovers and I got attached to a little boy.
“Three days later he passed away, it was tough and it was very sad.
“That touched me really. I’ve got kids myself and it affected me.
“You look at your kids at home and you feel blessed and you come here and you try and liven their spirits.
“I’ve been in the position when my daughter was in hospital for a long time so I know that it is difficult.
“At the end of the day its about coming here, helping, putting smiles on faces and making them feel special.”