Gallery: Blues players bring festive cheer to Suffolk patients

THEY may not be bringing cheer to fans in the stands right now, but a number of Ipswich Town footballers have brought smiles to the faces of patients in Suffolk.

David Norris, Gareth McAuley, Jack Colback and Arran Lee-Barrett visited the St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich yesterday and presented patients with a selection of Christmas gifts.

Players from the club are visiting a number of hospitals and hospices this week, and each of the wards visited will receive extra gifts including portable DVD and CD players, mini camcorders and toys for children who have to spend time in hospital throughout the year.

In addition to gifts donated by the club, the players have all dug into their own pockets to raise more than �2,000 for extra presents for the children they are visiting.

Club captain David Norris said: “The visits to the local hospitals and hospices at Christmas are an important part of our build-up to the festive season and being able to take gifts in to the children and adults we’re visiting is really rewarding.

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“We are very grateful for the assistance of Asda Stoke Park in ordering in all the toys that we need as well as donating CD players, DVDs, CDs and computer games from their own stock for the wards to keep.

“Being in hospital is never fun and especially so at this time of year. These visits give us the chance of helping to put a smile back on the faces of the children in the wards and showing our appreciation for the hard-working nurses and carers.”

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The players also spent time chatting to patients and staff at the hospice before being given a tour of the building.

Patient Ryan Coe, 82, from Hadleigh, said: “It’s really nice to see them here – they’re all nice chaps and this shows they care about the community.

“My grandson is a goalkeeper at the club’s academy and has trained with Arran Lee-Barrett. I had a nice chat with Arran about the training they do.

“Everyone in the hospice has had their spirits raised today. Especially those of us who are Town fans.”

Meanwhile, Blues’ players also took time out of their busy schedule to put smiles on the faces of sick children at West Suffolk Hospital yesterday.

Grant Leadbitter, Troy Brown, Luciano Civelli and Ronan Murray visited the children’s ward at the hospital in Bury St Edmunds where they gave out Christmas presents and signed autographs.

The first team players, who had paid for the gifts themselves, also spent time chatting to the youngsters and their families.

Ward manager Ann Robinson said the young patients were “really quite pleased” to see the players.

She said: “Ipswich Town Football Club’s annual visit to the ward is always a major highlight of the festive season for our young patients, and helps heighten excitement in the run-up to the big day itself.

“We really appreciate the fact that the players take time out of their busy training schedule to come along and pay our patients a visit, and would like to thank both them, and the club, for their continued support.”

As well as bringing gifts for the children, such as teddy bears, crayons and pencils, they also left presents for the ward, including a portable DVD player for future patients to enjoy.

Following Ipswich Town’s visit, the Beck Row Bikers will visit the ward, called the Rainbow Ward, at 3pm on Sunday to give out toys to patients.

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