Aston Villa Stars Bring Christmas Cheer To Acorns Hospice

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIDecember 23, 2009

Aston Villa stars brought plenty of festive cheer during a Christmas visit to Acorns Children's Hospice in Walsall.

Several of Villa's top players were present, including captain Stiliyan Petrov, James Milner , Stewart Downing , Brad Friedel , and Stephen Warnock, as well as fringe players Andy Marshall and Moustapha Salifou, and manager Martin O'Neill .

The festive visit comes as part of the club's strong relationship with Acorns, Villa's nominated charity that cares for children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and their families.

Aston Villa wear the Acorns logo on their kits instead of a sponsor, and have also donated £20,000 to help fund a new family lounge at the hospice.

Among the patients greeted by these top Premier League stars was 13-year old Chad Williams, who is a season ticket holder in the Trinity Road stand at Villa Park and plays wheelchair football for the Villa Rockets.

For him, presents wouldn't be needed as a Christmas gift, as long as "Villa win the Carling Cup and finish in the top four," which no doubt is a sentiment echoed by almost all Aston Villa supporters.

Chad's mum, Rose, said meeting his heroes was the perfect tonic for her son, who has had a tough year after surgery and a heart problem.

Another season ticket holder, Gary Leahy, who also suffers from muscular dystrophy, said, "Instead of sending Christmas cards, I can send people pictures of me with the players because all of my family are Villa fans!"

Acorns chief executive David Strudley said, "The children love it, and there was so much joy on their faces. I think a few of the nurses went a little bit weak at the knees as well!"

It's not only the patients and staff at Acorns who enjoy the visit. Aston Villa's ever-reliable defender Stephen Warnock is one player who is more than happy to give something back to the supporters.

He said, "It's unfortunate—the position the children are in—but they're fortunate that they've got the facilities and people to look after them in a great way."

"It's nice to come here for an hour or so to give them a bit of a boost and put smiles on their faces."

Acorns' three hospices employ more than 170 care staff, including a large multi-disciplinary Community Team. Its work is also hugely supported by 350 committed and trained volunteers.

Source: Birmingham Mail