Crystal Palace FC players, Joel Ward and Max Meyer bought big smiles and Christmas cheer to patients during their annual gift giving visit to Croydon University Hospital on Tuesday (17 December).
The players took time out after their training session to visit our elderly care unit and surprise children on Rupert Bear ward, which looks after the sickest children receiving treatment in the hospital. They handed out gifts before taking pictures and speaking with the patients.
The biggest grin was seen on the face of Brodie, a five-year old cancer patient, who met the players on the children's ward.
Recently diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that develops in the skeletal or voluntary muscles of the body, Brodie was living and attending nursery in Essex before her mum Cherie moved the family back to Croydon, where she grew up, to get care at Croydon Health Services.
"I wasn't getting the answers I wanted in Essex, so I moved us back home to Croydon and the fantastic doctors here found that Brodie had cancer within 24 hours of bringing her into the Emergency Department."
Cherie, a life-long supporter of the Eagles, was delighted to meet two of the club's stars.
"I grew up in Croydon supporting Palace and I used be go to Selhurst Park to see them play when I could. Since having children, that's changed and I haven't managed to get back there, so this is like a dream come true".
Speaking of Palace shirt-wearing Brodie's reaction, she said,
"As you can see Brodie is a fan, and she'll be an even bigger one after meeting the players today! It's been a difficult time for all of us since she was diagnosed, but all of the staff looking after Brodie are great and have given us so much support especially during the really hard times. We are hoping we are over the worst now and little surprises like this help us to stay positive. Thank you Crystal Palace and Croydon Health Services, it's really made our Christmas."
As well as meeting patients, the Palace players also spoke with hospital staff, from doctors and nurses to clerical staff.
Michael Burden, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Croydon Health Services, said:
“We're always delighted to welcome the players and staff from Crystal Palace during the festive season. We know that it makes a number of our patients happy, especially those that have grown up supporting the club, whether young or a little bit older!"
"Their generosity with their time and gifts is much appreciated by all of us at the Trust and we're sure those patients and staff that met the players today will treasure the moments into the future."