Baggies players visit children's wards at local hospitalsWEST Bromwich Albion players embarked on a mission to spread Christmas cheer on Tuesday afternoon as they visited children's wards at hospitals in both Sandwell and Dudley.
Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt, Salomon Rondon, Claudio Yacob, Matt Phillips and Craig Dawson were all on hand to play games and hand out presents to patients at Sandwell Hospital and Russells Hall Hospital.
For a 10th consecutive year, the Club, Albion Foundation and first-team players helped provide local children who are in hospital at this festive time of year with an array of gifts, including four televisions donated by Crescent Press. There was also a special visit from Santa Claus and Baggie Bird.
McAuley, who attended Sandwell Hospital, said: "It's humbling but very rewarding for the people we come and see and also for ourselves as well. It's great to give a little back and to see smiling faces at somewhere like a hospital is always nice, to try and make a difference.
"You can have a lot of things but sometimes you can't control your health, you take it for granted. It's a hard time for families but we can come down here and take their minds off it for a minute, make their kid smile, make the parents smile, and it makes a huge difference for people.
"It's a pleasure to help people at a time when it's difficult."
Little Stan Green, aged nine, who was being treated on Lyndon Ground ward, said it was “like a dream come true”.
He added: “This is absolutely brilliant. My biggest dream has come true today meeting Rondon. He’s my favourite.
“And I even got my t-shirt signed by all four who came along.”
Stan’s dad, Ash, laughed: “I thought they would have to take Stan’s blood pressure when he saw Rondon walk in.”
The visit was organised in conjunction with the hospital’s Your Trust Charity.
Acting Chief Nurse Elaine Newell said: “We are always very grateful to West Bromwich Albion for their continued generous support of our young patients at Christmas time.
"It is better for children to be at home for Christmas, however when they are too sick to go home at this festive time then a present from a local sporting hero goes some way to cheer them up.”
Following the hospital visits, the entire Albion squad travelled to The Hawthorns to attend the Junior Baggies Christmas party and help put more smiles on faces.