Merry Christmas from Manchester football clubs

Players from Manchester United and Manchester City send Christmas gifts to Francis House

Manchester United Foundation staff holding Christmas sacks with Francis House staff

Manchester United Foundation delivering gifts for Christmas

Manchester United

United’s men’s and women’s team have honoured the annual tradition of sending messages of support and gifts to children and staff at Francis House.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players were once again unable to deliver the gifts in person.

Instead, the players packed presents and sent festive video messages to the hospice and local children’s hospitals in Greater Manchester.

Both teams thanked staff for their continued hard work and also sent an array of United-themed presents including shirts, hats and annuals to spread some festive joy.

Cristiano Ronaldo was among those who took part in the annual tradition having met with young people and their families on previous engagements with Francis House.

He explained: “It is unfortunate that we could not visit the hospitals this year, as it is something I really liked to do when I was last here at Old Trafford. It’s so important that we give our support to the young people at this special time of year and it’s an honour for me to be part of this again.”

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Family with Manchester United gifts and Fred the Red mascot

Fred the Red delivering Christmas gifts to a family staying at Francis House

Manchester United Foundation organises the Christmas visits each year on behalf of the club, this year delivering over 2,000 Manchester United items for staff and patients.

David Ireland, chief executive at Francis House, spoke about the importance of Manchester United’s support. “We have a visit every year and have for many years: it’s a really important part of Christmas for Francis House,” said David.

“It’s been a really difficult year, so just to know that people are thinking of us, not just for the families but for the staff here too, is really important.

“It’s not been an easy time; everyone is working under a lot of anxiety and stress, but these gifts give us that little bit of pleasure and a lift just when we need it, right before Christmas.”

As a special surprise club mascot Fred the Red delivered the gifts much to the delight of a family of four from Saddleworth staying at the hospice for respite.

Dad, Aaron Clarke said: “It’s making good memories for them; with their sister being poorly it’s not as easy for them to go out and experience certain things. To show that people are there and care for them, it’s massive for them.”

Manchester City

Manchester City scarf and shirt

Manchester City delivered Christmas gifts including scarves and signed shirts

City continued the Christmas tradition by sending a special video message to the children and families recorded by player John Stones.

The club also delivered twenty shirts signed by players including: Walker, Sterling, Grealish, Stones, Torres, Dias and Foden. Scarves and bags were also given to the children and young people.

A spokesperson from the club said: “Manchester City are proud to give our on-going support to Francis House this Christmas. We know that the festive period can be difficult for the children and their families but during the pandemic, it is even more so. We would like to extend our very best wishes to everyone at the hospice, including the incredibly hard-working staff providing care during these challenging times.”

In December 2020, the club organised for hospice family and City fans Andrea Brookshaw and daughter Kaitlin to chat via a video link with players Esme Morgan and Megan Campbell.

Lifelong fan and wheelchair football player Matt Gilmore also spoke with players Rodri and Aymeric Laporte.

Lucy Thompson, events manager at Francis House said: “It was lovely to receive the Christmas goodie bags with signed shirts from Manchester City.  After a difficult two years it’s always a highlight for the families to receive gifts and messages from the players.

“It means a lot that they are thinking of us at this special time of year. We very much look forward to continuing our relationship with City and keeping the surprises and gestures of goodwill coming into 2022.”

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