Town manager and players deliver presentsThe Princess Royal Hospital in Telford were the recipients of a visit from Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday afternoon.
Along with manager Micky Mellon, members of the squad including top-scorer James Collins, Jordan Clark, James Caton and Mark Halstead made the visit to the children’s ward and delivered many gifts to the young patients.
Town have been regular visitors to the children’s ward at this time of the year and despite the unit moving to Telford recently, the Shrewsbury Town Community Sports Trust were still keen to make their annual visit.
Community development officer Aiden Wassell said: “It’s the first time we’ve come over to Telford for our Christmas visit and everyone has been thrilled to see the players.
“We’ve had some banter with some Telford fans but they’ve all been really friendly and that’s what it’s all about.
“I think it’s great that football clubs give something back to the community and you can tell that it means a lot to the players to come and do this sort of thing.
“We put a sign up sheet up at the club and it was filled within minutes. It’s something everyone wants to be involved in.”
Town players spent the afternoon chatting with parents, playing with children and talking with staff about the great work they do not just at Christmas, but all year round.
One recipient of a brand new Shrewsbury Town shirt was 11-year-old Oliver Cox, whose mother Michelle was delighted by the gesture of the club.
She said: “It’s really nice that they have taken the time out of their day to visit the patients here.
“We like watching Shrewsbury so to see the players walking through the door was a really nice surprise.”
And son Oliver was equally as pleased to see the players up close and in person.
He added: “My favourite player is James Caton, he was really nice to talk to. Micky Mellon is a really nice guy. I think he will get Shrewsbury promoted.”
Winger Caton was humbled to be able to walk around the ward and speak to young supporters.
Caton said: “I personally wanted to come to the hospital because we need to realise how privileged we are seeing as some of these kids won’t be able to go home for Christmas.
“It’s nice to be able to boost a young kid’s morale, put a smile on their face and make them happy, and as we are in a position to do that, it makes us very humble.”
Jemma Jordan and her two-year-old son Theo were delighted that her football mad son was able to meet the Shrewsbury Town players.
She said: “I think Theo will definitely be a Shrewsbury Town supporter now. He loves football and it’s such a great boost for us all to have them come round and not just hand out gifts but to chat to the parents and the kids.”
With the support of Toys R Us at Meole Retail Park, Shrewsbury Town staff were also able to present the ward with a brand new XBOX equipped with two controllers.
Micky Mellon feels it’s important that the club make the effort at this time of year.
“It’s good to come down and spend time with people who are going to spend their Christmas in hospital and if we can just put a smile on a few faces then it’s worthwhile," said Micky.
“We could only bring a few players otherwise the whole squad would have come along…but I don’t think there would be enough room for all of them though.
“I think we may have gained a few fans whilst doing this but the main aim of the day is just bringing some joy into their lives at this time of year."
Striker James Collins knows how important it is for football clubs and players to play their role within the community.
“We all look forward to coming on these visits and it’s a great feeling to give someone that little bit of happiness.
“The gaffer is very big on us players and the club going out into the community and giving something back.”
Play practitioner Dawn Walder was impressed with the turnout from the club as well as the glamorous gifts.
“We’ve had the players coming to the children’s ward for the past four or five seasons in Shrewsbury and it gives the kids such a boost," she said.
"They all love a footballer and it’s always exciting for them to interact with the players.
“It helps them get through the day that little bit easier.
“The gifts have been great from small bibs for babies to full Shrewsbury shirts for the older kids. It’s fantastic.”
The Shrewsbury Town staff will be making several visits over the festive period, with a trip to Hope House coming up next on Wednesday 17 December.