With the coronavirus and other common winter illnesses rife around South Yorkshire, our 2022 community Christmas visits to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and the Rotherham Hospice had to look a little different, but as always, we viewed it as vitally important to outwardly display our ongoing support of two amazing charities.
Traditionally, at this time of year members of the Rotherham United first team have visited both the Anston and Broom-based hospices to drop selection boxes and other Millers-related goodies in for both patients and staff, but having been in contact with representatives from both, it was clear that we would have to amend plans accordingly to help them continue to do what they do best – particularly during these tough winter months.
Players that we could be sure had a clean bill of health and were not in any way symptomatic of the coronavirus, were divvied up and given details of the visits they could attend which took place at the Rotherham Hospice and Bluebell Wood’s new Meadowhall shop on Tuesday 13th December 2022.
Georgie Kelly, Ben Wiles, Robbie Hemfrey, Richard Wood and Jake Hull all visited the Rotherham Hospice and were given a warm welcome by staff across the board from those on main reception, to the superstars in the kitchen and the heroes on the ward. They were also able to meet Millers fan Barry, who was well enough to come out of his room and spend 15 minutes chatting with the lads and reminiscing his memories of watch the Millers over the years.
Georgie Kelly, Ben Wiles, Robbie Hemfrey, Richard Wood and Jake Hull visited staff and patients at the Rotherham Hospice on Tuesday afternoon
The lads arrived with selection boxes which were distributed to both patients and staff as well as a bag of Millers programmes which the players hand-signed before passing them over.
There was a change of scenery for the lads showing their support to Bluebell Wood with Viktor Johansson, Jamie Lindsay, Dan Barlaser, Grant Hall and Peter Kioso dropping by the newly-opened Bluebell Wood shop at Meadowhall Shopping.
Peter Kioso, Viktor Johansson, Grant Hall, Dan Barlaser and Jamie Lindsay attended the visit at Bluebell Wood's shop in Meadowhall to show their support
Word had clearly spread of the Millers’ visit prior to their arrival with a number of football supporters – not just of Rotherham United – swinging by to collect autographs and have photos taken with the players, in turn, significantly increasing the footfall of shoppers to the Bluebell Wood store.
With Rotherham United’s Head of Community Jamie Noble for company, the lads had brought along with them team posters and programmes to sign, whilst a number of fans brought along their own memorabilia to top up their autograph collections.
One young fan named Henry, even came along specifically to say a big ‘thank you’ to his hero Jamie Lindsay, who had gifted him his match-worn shirt after the win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Young fan Henry personally thanked Jamie Lindsay, whilst meeting more of his heroes at the Bluebell Wood shop at Meadowhall on Tuesday
Speaking after another successful – but different – year of showing our appreciation to two of the local areas most amazing charities, club captain Richard Wood said:
“We totally understand that with the various illnesses going around at the moment, this year’s Christmas visits couldn’t be held in the same way that we have previously, but we absolutely wanted to make sure that the patients and staff at these places know how much their efforts are appreciated by everyone at Rotherham United."
“As always, it was great to meet the people who keep amazing charities like the Rotherham Hospice and Bluebell Wood running throughout the year and personally thank them for their efforts for our community.
"If us coming along to hand a few bits of Millers merchandise and selection boxes out to patients and staff, or even just have a photo or sign some autographs, can put smiles on faces then it is something we want to do.
"We appreciate how hard it can be for the patients and families using these services to not be able to have Christmas at home - like many of us are fortunate enough to.
"I have been at this club and involved with the local community for a long time now, so totally understand how important the Rotherham Hospice and Bluebell Wood are to the people of Rotherham and beyond, but it is always crucial that we make sure that the lads who have been here for a shorter period recognise just how vital these places are and I think they get a real appreciation of that by physically going out into the community at Christmas and meeting the individuals involved."