In the countdown to Christmas, the Bolton Wanderers first team have been getting into the festive spirit by visiting three local venues to deliver presents and spread Christmas cheer.
The team split into groups to visit the Royal Bolton Hospital, Derian House Children’s Hospice and the Bolton Hospice across Monday and Tuesday, delivering gifts bought by the players.
Manager Keith Hill, David Flitcroft, Mike Pollitt, Thibaud Verlinden, Remi Matthews and Joe Bunney were in attendance at the Royal Bolton Hospital, where they visited the children’s ward, meeting patients and parents who will be spending the festive period in hospital.
Hill, who was born at the hospital, stressed the importance of the club’s community visits, especially during Christmas.
He said: “It’s a humbling experience, it’s an important operation with respects to the needs of this hospital that we do what we can.
“We’re trying to raise the spirits, to help the children, to help the staff who work at the hospital and it’s an important time of the year to remember that we’re not just part of a football family but a community family.
“It’s great to come around and see the children and try and give them a little bit of happiness, a little bit of more hope, show that we care and that they’re part of the football family.
“We all know that your health is your wealth and we’re here to offer as much help and support as we can for these people in the hospital to get better.”
Josh Emmanuel, Luke Murphy, Chris O’Grady, Daryl Murphy, Harry Brockbank, Connor Hall and first-team coach Julian Darby visited the Bolton Hospice, meeting residents of their day unit, some of which were lifelong fans of The Whites.
The players spent time talking to residents and taking photos, something which is especially important to the elderly at what for many, can be a lonely time of year.
Bolton born Brockbank reflected on how important these visits are to the local community.
He said: “It’s a massive privilege. I think it’s a really humbling experience, you realise how lucky you are to be able to spend Christmas at home with your family.
“Obviously we think that football is everything but then you come to places like this and you realise there’s a lot more to life than football, it’s important to do visits like this to give back to the community.”
The final group of players consisting of captain Jason Lowe, Jack Hobbs, Adam Chicksen, Ali Crawford, Joe Dodoo, Josh Earl, Jake Wright and Liam Bridcutt visited the Derian House Children's Hospice in Euxton.
The hospice has been renovated recently and now has a cinema room, sensory room and a pool, with the skipper Lowe, who is an ambassador for the hospice, being impressed with the developments made in the last year.
He said: ”12-months on from my first visit and to see all the work they’ve done it’s been amazing, the facility how it’s improved, what the guys have done for the kids is amazing.
“The people that have put in this work you couldn’t ask any more of them, it’s all to try and put a smile on the kids’ faces that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s all about families coming together and creating memories at these special times and the facility here caters for that immensely, it’s fantastic and I can’t speak highly enough about the work the people here do for them.”
Everybody at Bolton Wanderers Football Club would like to wish their supporters around the world a very Merry Christmas.