Clarets stars Jay Rodriguez and Sarah Agger bring festive cheer to Pendleside Hospice

Pendleside was given a Christmas treat when Clarets striker Jay Rodriguez and Burnley FC Women’s defender Sarah Agger met patients, staff and volunteers on a festive visit to the hospice.

Jay Rodriguez with Clarets fan Anthony Ruth, Burnley Women’s Sarah Agger
and Anthony’s wife Kim
Jay Rodriguez with Clarets fan Anthony Ruth, Burnley Women’s Sarah Agger and Anthony’s wife Kim

Burnley-born Jay has been a Pendleside ambassador for more than three years and has continually helped raise funds for the hospice both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At beginning of the outbreak he also sourced and bought a consignment of PPE when the equipment was scarce.

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“It was an absolute pleasure to visit Pendleside at this time of year," said Jay. "To meet some of the day-care patients and to listen to their own stories as well as their stories about Burnley FC was really interesting.

“It’s not so long ago that I lost my grandad at Pendleside and both myself and my family couldn’t thank everyone there enough for the care they gave him. We will always be grateful and if there is anything possible for me to do for this great place I will do.”

During the visit Jay, 30, volunteered to wear the full PPE that nurses wear at times on duty in the inpatients’ unit.

He said: “I realise it is to protect themselves against potentially catching Covid but it’s unbelievable how they can get on with their duties wearing the protective gown, gloves, headwear and visor that they do. But amazingly they are so professional they do it now as a matter of course.”

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Amongst the patients who Jay and Sarah met was Turf Moor season ticket holder Gordon Hale, 66, a retired cleaner at Thomas Whittam High School, who attends the peer group meetings at Pendleside.

He said: “It was great chatting to Jay. I have been a Burnley fan since I was a baby so today was a real Christmas treat.”

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Another Clarets fan Anthony Ruth, 59, who has suffered cancer three times and in the past has helped run Burnley Community football team for players with learning difficulties and the disabled, was also excited by meeting Jay and Sarah.

He said: “I didn’t want to miss meeting Jay. He is one of our own. I have followed him all of his career from being a youngster at Turf Moor, to playing for Southampton and West Brom,

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and now back with us.”

And Steve Livesey, 74, who attends the breathless sessions at the hospice and who first watched the Clarets when they won the First Division title in 1959-60, said: “It’s been a real pleasure chatting to Jay and Sarah. They are both a credit to the football club.”

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The two Burnley players were also introduced to a group of nurses from the inpatients ward Debby Dodd, Sue Smith, Sue Parnell and Joanne Doherty as well as staff from the Health, Well-Being, Rehabilitation and Outpatients Unit.

Pendleside’s chief executive Helen McVey said: “There was a lot of excitement around the hospice when we knew Jay and Sarah were visiting. Staff and patients wanted to meet them

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and brought in memorabilia for them to sign.

“Jay is a wonderful ambassador and has worked incredibly hard during the pandemic to help keep us providing the high standard of service that we are proud to offer people with life-

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limiting illnesses and their families.”