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United players spread joy at Oxford children’s ward
Buy this photo » Left to right: Deane Smalley, Ruby Howard from Henley and Jake Wright. Pictures: OX64074 Ed Nix
IT was the first time some of the children had smiled in weeks. That was the verdict of staff from Oxford Children’s Hospital after a visit from Oxford United footballers yesterday, who bought some early festive cheer with them.
The first team visited Oxford Children’s Hospital at the John Radcliffe site in Headington to give out hundreds of toys that had been donated by kind-hearted fans at the club’s last three home games.
Teddy bears, games, colouring books and colourful pens were among the treats handed out by the players to delighted children.
Oxford United captain Jake Wright said: “It is always great to meet the staff who do such a wonderful job and the kids we met were all amazing. We hope they will get home for Christmas.”
Striker James Constable said: “It was a pleasure to meet everybody at the children’s hospital.
“As a dad with a new baby at home I really appreciate the work that everyone does at the children’s hospital.”
He added: “Our fans have been brilliant donating so many toys and games.”
The club has been visiting the hospital every year with toys for more than 25 years.
Organiser Peter Rhoades-Brown, business development manager and former player, said: “The staff said this is the first time that some of the children have smiled in three weeks.
“The kids were so pleased.
“The players spent a couple of hours there. The nurses were also pleased to see the players.”
He added: “We offered some hospitality to some of the children to come and watch the game as an incentive to get them fit and healthy.”
The players also clubbed together to buy enough DVDs to last the wards all the year round.
Sarah Vaccari, from the children’s hospital, said: “We were thrilled the Oxford United team came in and visited our children again this year.
“It makes such a difference – they really cheered up some poorly children who were delighted to receive so many fantastic gifts.
“The children’s hospital is the chosen charity for United’s Boxing Day match and we are very grateful for this continuing support.”
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