Burnley players deliver festive cheer to patients and staff at Pendleside Hospice

Burnley's Jay Rodriguez has a very personal connection to Pendleside Hospice.

This was where his grandad was cared for before he passed away last year at the age of 76.

The striker is now an ambassador for the centre and along with Burnley Women's player Sarah Agger, he made a special seasonal visit.

Jay says, "Everyone in this area speaks so highly of this place and obviously myself not so long ago lost my grandad. Me and my family can't thank this place enough.

Jay Rodriguez with his grandad Brian Threlfall Credit: Jay Rodriguez

"The work they do and their care and help they go above and beyond. Coming back here it did jar a few memories, seeing the nurses and the people.

"Being able to thank them for all the work they do everyday is a real great thing."

Sarah says, "We've met some volunteers, carers and it's lovely to meet them and see what good work they're doing. And for us it's just nice to give back to the local community."

Sarah Agger and Jay Rodriguez visit Pendleside Hospice

As well as posing for photos and signing autographs, Jay also had a glimpse into what life is like for the staff at the hospice by trying on the multiple items of PPE that nurses must wear when dealing with patients.

Jay says, "It's really uncomfortable to put on. They said as soon as they get an alarm to say they need to see a patient they need to rush and put all that equipment that I had on.

It's really difficult. It's just a credit to them and their family and everyone they help it is an amazing place."

Jay Rodriguez in PPE

Jay's support to the hospice goes beyond a Christmas visits. At the start of the pandemic when they were unable to find PPE, he stepped in to source and provide the much needed items.

Like hospices all across our region, Pendleside has found times tougher than ever before due to Covid. Chief Executive Helen McVey says having the support of people like Jay and Sarah is a big boost to morale.

Helen says, "We've seen the demand on our services increase as a result of the pandemic, at the same time we've seen our fundraising be severely affected.

"It's been a really hard 18 months for our staff and patients so to have somebody come in and take some time with them and bring a bit of cheer to the hospice has made it special."