Players and staff members from Derby County met patients, their families, and staff at Royal Derby Hospital as part of their annual Christmas visit on Thursday 7th December.

Head Coach Paul Warne and captain Conor Hourihane were joined by member of the Men's and Women's first team squads as they spent time speaking with patients and their loved ones in Neonatal Intensive Care, Sunflower, Dolphin, and Puffin Wards, and the Paediatric Critical Care Unit.

Alongside Warne and Hourihane were Men’s players Curtis Nelson, Sonny Bradley, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and James Collins and staff members Richie Barker, Matt Hamshaw and Andy Warrington, as well as Women’s first team players Amy Sims, Hannah Ward and Becky McGrother.

Warne explained that players and staff were delighted to be able to meet patients and their families and spend time with them by saying: “If they [the patients] can meet the footballers and meet some of their heroes, it can just give them a little boost, like a bit of sunshine on a dark day.”

Visits were also paid to the Children's Outpatients Christmas fayre, where they were joined by club mascot Rammie in handing out presents and posing for pictures with delighted children.

Midfielder Hourihane, who visited the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, said: “We’ve come down today to try and cheer them up the best we can, and hopefully put some smiles on the faces of the families here."

Gwen Hatton, Divisional Nurse Director for Paediatrics and Gynaecology at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, said: “This is something that we as staff look forward to every year as to see the smiles on the children's faces as they meet the players and coaching staff is so heart-warming.

"Being in hospital, especially over the festive season, can be difficult for some children, so for some of them to get a chance to meet their heroes really lifts their spirits, so thank you to everyone at Derby County for helping make the visit special."

The club also donated a series of gifts for the Children's Hospital to provide entertainment to future patients and their families.

Women's midfielder, Becky McGrother, added: “Just being able to put a smile on their faces when they’re going through a tough time has been really nice.”