As the festive season well and truly gets underway, the Ospreys spread some Christmas cheer on Friday when they visited the Children's Wards at Morriston Hospital in Swansea and Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.
The entire first team squad took time out from preparing for the big Boxing Day derby against the Scarlets, splitting into two groups for the visits, where they spent time with children currently being treated, signing autographs and posing for photos – proving as big a hit with the nursing staff and parents as they did with the young children.
The festive hospital visits are now a firm fixture in the Ospreys calendar, with the players looking forward to bringing some Christmas cheer to those who need it most.
Ryan Jones was one of those visiting Morriston Hospital, and he said:
“These hospital visits are always very emotional, but very rewarding for everyone involved. As a parent of two young children myself it can be tough, but the feeling you get when you see their faces light up as you walk into the room means so much.
“We’re in a very privileged position as professional sportsmen and if we can do something to ease their pain a little bit, to put a smile on their faces, it’s important that we do just that. Hopefully we’ve helped make their stay in hospital a little bit more bearable.”
Richard Fussell was among those who visited Princess of Wales Hospital and he added:
“It’s the very least we can do, to give up a morning in order to cheer up some of the sick or ill young children in hospital. No one wants to be in hospital at any time, least of all at Christmas, so anything we can do to help, we will.
“The courage, attitude and sense of humour shown by the children despite their problems was humbling and it certainly makes you put things in perspective. Hopefully the children we visited enjoyed themselves. I know that the visit had a huge impact on all the boys in the squad.”
Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Hore, commented:
“It is the players themselves who come to us at this time of the year asking when are they are going to be visiting the children’s wards, these trips always prove popular with the players as well as the youngsters.
“Our commitment to the region isn’t limited to what happens on a rugby field, at the Liberty or at one of our 77 clubs. Our commitment is to the wider community and it’s important that we reach out to as many people across Ospreylia as possible, and have a positive influence on the lives of youngsters across the region.
“I know that there are a number of children whose unfortunate stay in hospital will have been made just a little more bearable by the visits, which is the most important thing.”
Visit our Facebook gallery from the Morriston Hospital visit at this link