NEWCASTLE United stars brought some festive cheer to poorly children.
The players paid a surprise visit to North Tyneside General and Newcastle’s Freeman hospitals, and took along Christmas gifts for young patients.
Among the footballers at North Tyneside were Papiss Cisse, Davide Santon, Mehdi Abeid, Rob Elliott, Shane Ferguson and Remi Streete.
Parents David and Claire Smith, of Killingworth, said the footballers cheered up their three-year-old son Harrison.
Claire, 28, said: “Harrison has a condition called HSP which affects his muscles. He was crying in the morning but when the footballers came in and brought him presents, it cheered him right up.
“We were overjoyed. It was nice of them to come.” Magpies’ goalkeeper Rob Elliott said: “It was a great privilege for us to come and meet the children, their families and staff at the hospital.
“A couple of the children were a bit shy at first but it was great to see the smiles on their faces. These youngsters are going through a tough time and it only takes a few minutes for us to brighten up their day. We were only too happy to bring them gifts.”
Players at the Freeman included Steve Harper, Demba Ba, Romain Amalfitano, Michael Richardson and Mike Williamson.
Among the youngsters there was Olivia Finn, five, from North Shields, who was waiting to go into surgery to have her tonsils removed.
Her mum Samantha Knox, 26, said: “There was a real buzz about the ward, waiting for the players to arrive.
“It was really exciting and it’s been great for the children to see and chat to the players.”
Joshua Winter, five, of Blyth, Northumberland, who had an operation to remove adenoids, was delighted to meet his footballing heroes.
He said: “It was really exciting and they gave me a great present.”
Mum Gillian, 31, said: “It was really good to meet the players and they lifted the spirits of the children.” Goalkeeper Steve Harper said: “It is very important that the players visit the children.
“Nobody wants to be in hospital at this time of the year, so it is nice to be able to do our bit to help. I have three kids myself and I understand what parents are going through when their child is not well, especially when the kids are young.”
Striker Demba Ba added: “It is always nice to see a smile on the faces of kids. Our visit is important for the children as they are going through a difficult situation.”