ALBION players this afternoon got into the festive spirit when they met young patients at Russells Hall Hospital.
The first-team squad has joined forces with the club to buy an array of presents, which Shane Long, Steven Reid and Ben Foster handed out on the Children’s Ward. The trio chatted with the young patients and hospital staff, signed autographs and posed for photos.
They were joined at Russells Hall by club mascots BaggieBird and Albi, plus Father Christmas, and presented the Dudley-based hospital with a flat screen TV, kindly donated by Apollo 2000.
“Our hospital visits are always a brilliant experience,” said striker Shane.
“You can see the children’s eyes open wide when you walk through the door and it’s always nice for them to get a few presents to open before Christmas.
“I’ve got a little girl, Teigan, who is three in March and I can understand what the parents are going through having their children in hospital, especially at this time of year.”
Right-back Steven added: “We represent the club on regular visits into the community throughout the year but the annual hospital visits are probably the ones we look forward to the most.
“It must be really tough being in hospital at this time of year and we really enjoy trying to put smiles on the kids’ faces.”
The club teamed up with Russells Hall’s Children's Ward and Communications Team to make the visit possible.
For the sixth year running, Albion have extended their annual hospital visit to two sites. Last Thursday, members of the first-team squad also visited Sandwell Hospital.
Albion Chief Executive, Mark Jenkins, said: "We have a big support in the Dudley area who benefit greatly from Russells Hall Hospital and its hard-working staff.
“The players helped to raise the spirits of the young patients today and were very well received, like they were at Sandwell Hospital last week.”
Paula Clark, Chief Executive of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The staff and patients always look forward to the visit each year by the West Bromwich Albion players.
“Christmas can be a difficult time for children to be in hospital and the visit really does raise everyone’s spirits.”
PIC: BAGGIES OF PRESENTS...Shane and BaggieBird meet Abbie Exall, aged eight, from Halesowen