Everton’s first-team players brought smiles to the wards of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on Thursday when the entire squad paid their annual visit to the West Derby facility.
Sam Allardyce, his coaching staff and all of the senior squad handed out a raft of Everton goodies, all donated by the Club’s official retail partner Fanatics, including cuddly toys, blankets, cushions and Everton mugs. They also spent time chatting to patients and their families, passing on their best wishes to many of whom are set to spend the entire festive period on the wards of the local children’s hospital.
It was Blues boss Allardyce’s first visit to Alder Hey as Everton manager and he said: “Putting a smile on children’s faces and on the faces of their families while they’re spending time in hospital around Christmas is what it’s been about and, happily, we’ve been able to do that.
“Some of the kids will have to spend their Christmas here at Alder Hey and if we’ve been able to cheer them up even a little then we’re privileged to have been able to do that.
“The staff here are brilliant people and it’s been great to speak to some of them, too.
“But it’s about the kids and their families, especially at this time of year, and I know the players here always look forward to visiting Alder Hey, with Wayne and Leighton both patrons of the charity. It’s been great to bring some Christmas cheer to the children here.”
Alder Hey cares for more than 270,000 children each year and has forged extremely strong links with Everton, with two patrons in the first team in Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney, as well as with the Club’s official charity Everton in the Community, who have been working in the hospital for over 10 years, spending five days a week running activity workshops at the state-of-the-art hospital.
The healthcare campus, known as Alder Hey in the Park, opened in the Autumn of 2015 following a decade-long project to create a modern, world-class medical facility for the city, with the design inspired by children.
Phil Jagielka has been attending the annual Alder Hey visits for 11 years since he joined the Club from Sheffield United in the summer of 2007. “It’s always so special getting to see such inspirational kids who are going through really tough times, especially at this time of year,” said the Everton captain.
“It’s been another great visit this year and I was with quite a few of the younger lads and some of our new players, so it was great to show them Alder Hey so they could see first-hand the great work the staff do here all year round.”
Mason Holgate, who was making his second Christmas visit to Alder Hey, added: “Everybody has been looking forward to the visit since we found out when it was taking place and it’s always a privilege to come here for the afternoon.
“The good work that takes place here is also something that you think about when you go home too. You think about the people you have met, patients and staff. It’s very important for us to meet members of the community - these are the people that come out to support us.
“It fills you with happiness and pride to think that by taking an afternoon out of our time can really help people make it through a difficult part of the year.”
Gill Kennedy, Events and Engagement Officer at Alder Hey said: “A massive thank you to Everton for visiting us today. We have an amazing relationship with them and our patients and staff had a fantastic time meeting some of their heroes.”