Members of the Leeds Rhinos squad that won the Super League Grand Final delivered some Christmas cheer to the children’s wards at Leeds General Infirmary yesterday, in an annual event organized by The Leeds Rugby Foundation and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Foundation
Grand Final man of the match Rob Burrow, teammates Zak Hardaker, Kylie Leuluai, Chris Clarkson and Ian Kirke, and new signings Darrell Griffin, Luke Briscoe and Richard Moore distributed teddy bears and Rhinos merchandise donated by the Leeds Rugby Foundation. The Super League trophy was also on display along with the Leeds Rhinos mascot Ronnie the Rhino.
Moore's son received treatment at the hospital earlier this year and Crusaders, his former club, donated a flatscreen television and a Wii games console for him to pass on to the ward as a thank you.
Moore said: "The staff on the children's wards do a fantastic job both for the children and their families and this was just a small token of our appreciation for everything they did for us."
Burrow, who won his fifth Grand Final with the Rhinos this year, added: "Our annual Christmas trip to the Childrens Wards are one of the highlights of the year for the players. It is great to meet the kids and have the chance to put a smile on their face at a tough time for them and their families. I'm glad we could bring the Super League trophy with us this year and that everyone had a great time."
Winger Zak Hardaker, who was making his second annual visit to the hospital, told the YEP: "It's great for us players to get out and about in the community and to spread a bit of cheer with the kids here. To give them a bit of joy at this time of year and see a smile on their faces and maybe make their Christmas a bit more special makes such a difference."
Hooker Paul McShane, who was on his third visit, said: "It can be quite hard to see the kids in here but when you see the smiles on their faces as you walk around and talk to them, it makes it all worth it. We've visited kids as young as five-weeks-old right up to 14 and 15 and we're very happy to be here."
Little Eloise Codling, two, certainly enjoyed the visit and posed sitting on the prestigious Super League trophy alongside Rhinos star Rob Burrow.
Proud mum Seaneen Johnston, 28, said: "She absolutely loved it and chased after the players for more pictures when they left. It's great that the players can come down at this time of year because the children need all the cheering up they can get and it gives them a big boost."
John Ahm, Jonny Wainhouse, Sian Hills, Tony Aubrey, Sam Horner, Madeleine Hegerty and Leon Crick were all on hand from the Leeds Rugby Foundation to help guide the Leeds Rhinos players around the wards and to spend some time with the children and families that were there.
Jonny Wainhouse, Leeds Rugby Foundation, Rhinos Community Manager was quoted saying, "Days like to day just symbolizes what the LRF and Leeds Rhinos are all about, making a difference in the community. The aim of today was to put a smile on childrens faces and for the brief moments we spent with the children, the children were able to forget about their condition for a few minutes. This was so heart warming for everyone involved." Jonny also commented "The LRF staff and the players should feel immensely proud of themselves because they made a difference today and gave a number of children, families and staff a day to remember"
Jacquie Cross, development manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Foundation, added: "It's hard being in hospital at any time of the year but at Christmas it's especially difficult for children and their families. To have the players and Ronnie come down for a visit is such a huge boost for them and it's also a massive morale boost for the staff who work so hard at this time of year."