18 Dec 2023

Rhinos stars make annual visit to Leeds Children Hospital

Stars from the Leeds Rhinos visited Leeds Children's Hospital on Wednesday afternoon to give presents, provided by Leeds Rugby Foundation, to children less fortunate than themselves.

Players from the Leeds Rhinos men's and women's teams made their annual visit to the Leeds Children's Hospital last week to hand out gifts to the patients.

Each year the players donate their kit to Leeds Rhinos Foundation for a Christmas Crackers sale that raises money to buy presents for the children who will be in hospital over the festive period.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith joined his squad for the visit alongside Rhinos Women's players Keara Bennett, Sophie Nuttall and Caitlin Casey.

There was a special surprise for one young Rhinos fan who was attending Leeds Children’s Hospital for day-case surgery. After his surgery, 7-year-old Vinny from Cross Gates was ready to go home by tea time. Vinny had no idea that Leeds Rhinos players were visiting the hospital but by coincidence had brought his Rhinos shirt to wear! Vinny is a big sports fan and gets his love of Leeds Rhinos from his Grandad. Vinny was delighted when players walked onto his ward with some early Christmas presents. He was so excited he came down to Reception to meet the whole team and asked everyone to sign his shirt! Players were delighted to meet a fan and Vinny enjoyed shaking everyone’s hand!

Vinny’s mum Emma said:  "It’s been overwhelming and it just shows that every cloud has a silver lining! We were feeling a bit down in the middle of the day but now we’re all smiles! The players are all such polite, respectful boys. Thank you so much Leeds Rhinos!"

Leeds Rhinos player Jarrod O'Connor said: "We know there are some people are going through tough times at the moment and being in hospital at Christmas is difficult for children and their families, so we are pleased to come down and hopefully put a smile on people's faces.  The whole city of Leeds shows us support every week and it's only right that we pay that back and do our part to support our community and help those out who are a bit less fortunate."

Lisa Beaumont, Therapeutic and Specialised Play Manager at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “It’s been a lovely afternoon with the Rhinos squad.  We have lots of children on the wards in the build-up to Christmas and no child wants to be in hospital at this time of year so the fact the Rhinos come in and can bring a bit of the Christmas magic with them and give out gifts to patients and bring smiles to the faces of some of the parents has been great.  Things like this really make such a big difference.

"We are one of the largest children's hospitals in the country with a range of specialities and I would ask anyone who would like to support us to contact our charity partner Leeds Hospitals Charity."

Gareth Cook, Head of Community at Leeds Rhinos Foundation said: "We have been working with Leeds Children's Hospital for a number of years now.  During the year we do a little bit of fundraising and buy gifts for the children.  We speak to Lisa at the hospital to find out what they might need and then we come down with the squad to visit about 15 wards and speak with the children and their parents and hopefully make Christmas that little bit easier.  

"It always a really positive reaction to the squad.  The fact that the players take time out to really engage and spend a lot of time talking to parents and children, having pictures and signing autographs it means a lot to them.  We look forward to this visit every year and it was great to see the players interacting with the children - Justin Sangare was even on guitar in one of the wards with Ed Bates, our inclusion officer.

"We are grateful to all the staff at Leeds Children's Hospital for their hard work in making our visit possible and once again Fourway Executive Travel provided the free transport for the team."

If you would like to donate to the Leeds Children’s Hospital Christmas appeal and find out about the Christmas Wish List visit https://www.leedshospitalscharity.org.uk/


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