Jack Brooks, Andrew Hodd and Alex Lees were on hand to play Santa Claus at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) this afternoon, with the Yorkshire stars describing a humbling and an inspiring experience.
They handed out gifts, cards and toys, including junior Vikings goodie bags, in the Children’s Congenital Heart Unit, who are supported by the club’s official charity partner, The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.
Last month, former White Rose president Dickie Bird donated £30,000 to the CHSF cause, while he also became an ambassador.
And Hodd and company were only too happy to get involved today and lend a hand themselves.
The experienced wicketkeeper, who has a one-year-old of his own, said: “It’s inspiring for us when you come down and see how the kids are dealing with adversity.
“Earlier this week, my missus had a bad bout of food poisoning, and even that reminded me of how much you take your health for granted.
“And, as I say, that was just food poisoning.
“Here, we’ve seen kids who are at the other end of the spectrum.
“Christmas is a time for giving and thinking of others, and it’s great to be able to come down, hand some presents out and, hopefully, make someone’s day that bit better.
“It certainly puts things into perspective.
“You realise how lucky we are as cricketers and professionals in sport in general. We get the chance to come into Headingley to train and play, and it’s a dream job really.
“I think you see quite a bit of this going on (sporting clubs visiting hospitals).
“The Rhinos do a similar sort of thing, and it can definitely have a positive impact.
“The Yorkshire sporting community getting around these sort of things is brilliant.”
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, Yorkshire CCC and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation will embark upon their second year of the charity partnership in 2018.
CHSF provide the Congenital Heart Unit at LGI with new equipment, accommodation for families, staffing, ward facilities and research.
Established in 1988, CHSF provides support for children and adults born with Congenital Heart Defects and their families.
Sharon Coyle, their chief executive, was full of praise for the players and the club in general, insisting the visit does help with the recovery of their young patients.
“They’re so natural with the parents and the children, and I can’t praise the players enough,” she said.
“It definitely lifts the children.
“They have been through such a lot, so for someone to come in handing over presents and taking an interest in their day is going lifts their spirits, which in turn helps with their recovery.
“It’s a very positive thing to do.”
New ball seamer Brooks added: “It’s great for us and very humbling.
“It’s at this time of year when you want to be with your family and in as good a health as possible. Hopefully some of the children in here will be home before Christmas.
“We’re very lucky and privileged, and some people will look up to us, especially kids.
“One day they may want to be a sportsman. They might see something you achieve and want to do it themselves.
“Us being here will hopefully give them a ray of light and put a smile on their faces.
“It’s fantastic to be involved, and anything we can do to help is fantastic.
“This place always needs more money. I think they raised £1m last year, which will keep them going for a while.
“Hopefully we can help to raise the profile or even a bit of cash, maybe even from somebody reading this interview.
“The last thing we want is for a facility such as this closing down because the next nearest is Newcastle I think. Please get involved.”