Norwich City footballers make surprise visit to season ticket-holder at Norfolk Each hospice

Pics from Norwich City FC
City stars Kieron Dowell and Michael McGovern with Bethany Smith, centre, and her sister Bonnie. Credit: Norwich City FC

Football stars met a former team mascot as they handed out Christmas presents at a children's hospice.

Players from Norwich City chatted to 12-year-old season ticket holder Bethany Smith as they visited at The Nook, run by East Anglia's Children's Hospice, to spread some festive cheer to children and their families.

Bethany has mitochondrial myopathy, a life-limiting condition that affects her muscles and energy levels, and was at The Nook in Framingham Earl with her parents and nine-year-old sister Bonnie.

Bethany was mascot for a match in September 2018 and led the players out with goalkeeper Tim Krul - one of the players who visited, alongside Sam Byram, Michael McGovern, Josh Sargent, Kieran Dowell and Jordan Hugill.

Signed boots provided by Adam Idah and Aaron Ramsey were given out during the visit. Credit: NORWICH CITY FC

Her father Steve Smith, who has been a Norwich fan since 1975, said: “It was absolutely brilliant to come and meet the players, especially after Covid and in the build-up to Christmas.

"It can be a difficult time of year but this was the best possible present and the lads did us proud.

"Norwich is such a family-orientated, community-minded club and more teams should follow their lead. They have a great reputation and deservedly so.”

The players signed autographs and posed for photos before handing out gifts, including signed football boots from City stars Aaron Ramsey and Adam Idah.

Other Norwich City FC players also visited the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston-on-Sea and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Norwich striker Jordan Hugill said: “I love doing things like this and enjoy meeting our young supporters and their families.

"As players, it’s so important we get out in the community and it’s a great feeling being able to do it again, after Covid.

"People see us out on the pitch but it’s nice when we have the time to chat to people and hear their stories.

“Coming to the hospice is a real eye-opener and very humbling. If our visit puts smiles on faces then I couldn’t be happier. It’s our absolute pleasure.”

Players handed out Christmas gifts to the children before signing autographs and posing for photos. Credit: NORWICH CITY FC

The charity Each provides care and support for families across its three hospices in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, and Norfolk.

Staff at the hospital were given a special hamper by the players as thanks for their hard work during the year.

Louise Gower, an Each service manager, said the players had brought real joy to The Nook.

“They were absolutely brilliant and had time for everyone," she said. "Seeing the smiles on faces was so lovely and, in addition to the visit, we’re extremely grateful for the presents.

"They left lots for other children to enjoy and also brought a hamper of goodies for staff, which was very kind and much appreciated.”

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