A former Burnley player, who scored 41 goals for the Clarets, has been named as the first celebrity ambassador for Pendleside Hospice.
Jay Rodriguez certainly put a smile on the faces of patients and staff during his visit there when his VIP role was announced.
The 28-year-old, who was born and raised in Burnley visited the Reedley-based hospice last Monday with his wife Simone and father Kiko.
Jay, who is now forward for Premier League club West Bromwich Albion, met dozens of hospice patients and signed autographs, as well as having a tour of the facilities and finding out what services the hospice provides.
Since his announcement as the first celebrity ambassador, the former Clarets player has vowed to help promote the invaluable help they provide for people with life-limiting illnesses.
Jay, who has previously fundraised for the hospice by donating money from his 21st birthday, said: “I was really surprised but delighted to be asked to become an ambassador for Pendleside.
"It’s such a fantastic local charity and I feel privileged to be able to get involved with helping to promote the work they undertake.
“What strikes you when you come to the hospice is what a happy place it is, despite the fact some of the patients are going through extremely difficult times.
"It was really interesting to have a tour of the facilities. I hadn’t been aware before of all the services and activities that they offered.
“It was a pleasure to meet some patients and staff. It was clear to see how much effort the staff put into making Pendleside Hospice such a nice place to be.”
Chief Executive of Pendleside Hospice Helen McVey said: “To have Jay as our first celebrity ambassador for the hospice is a real honour and we are thrilled that he will help us to spread the word of the vital work we undertake.
“During the tour we showed Jay around both the day services and inpatients units and told them him about the services we provide, including complementary therapies, rehabilitation, bereavement support, dementia support, hospice at home care, to name a few.”
Lorraine Webb-Hall from Sycamore Avenue in Burnley who is currently an inpatient at the hospice, said she was delighted to meet Jay. She said: “I was honoured and delighted to meet Jay and he said the same to me.
"I made him promise to come and visit Pendleside again soon, which I’m pleased about as there’s so much more I could chat to him about.
"I’m so glad to hear he’s supporting Pendleside and his support will hopefully have a big impact.”
Jay began his career with his hometown club Burnley and scored the 41 goals in 128 appearances across all competitions from his debut in 2007.
In 2012, he joined Southampton for around £7 million, where his form earned him his only England national team cap.