CHILDREN on the Rainbow Ward of Wigan Infirmary were given a celebrity boost this week when they received a visit from Wigan Athletic stars.
There were smiles across the faces of the youngsters, some of whom could be spending the festive period in hospital.
Manager Roberto Martinez was joined by first team members Mike Pollitt, James McArthur, Adrian Lopez, Jordi Gomez, Roman Golobart and Arouna Kone.
The players all chipped in to buy presents which were distributed to the children across the ward.
It’s an annual visit made by the squad and a particular poignant one for midfielder McArthur who also spent time in hospital as a child.
He spoke about how the squad enjoy having the opportunity to visit the youngsters and seeing the smiles on their faces.
He said: “It’s very good, we enjoy doing it. It’s sometimes hard seeing kids who are having a tough time right now, hopefully it gives them a bit of a boost to kick on.
“You just like to see kids’ faces light up, especially Wigan fans too.
“Wigan is a family club, the fans the team and Wigan itself just sticks together and coming here to make people’s day to see the faces of some of the kids is great for us.”
Among the many children the squad spoke to was Bethany Davies.
The 15-year-old is a big Latics fan and met McArthur last year when the squad made their visit then.
Unfortunately, Bethany is a regular at Wigan Infirmary, having to stay on the ward every three months for treatment for cystic fibrosis. But there was a beam on her face when the players turned up again.
Bethany, a student at Rose Bridge high school, said: “It’s great. I’m a huge Latics fan and go to all the home games so to meet the players like this is fantastic.
“I met James McArthur last year and he gave me his boot, he remembered me today which was amazing.
“It’s so good that they do this.”
Elsewhere on the ward, the players met eight-year-old Zach Willoughby.
Another keen Latics fan, Zach has spent the last few weeks in and out of hospital after he fell from monkey bars.
He said: “It was great meeting the players, it was really exciting when they came in. I go to quite a few games but couldn’t go on Saturday because I wasn’t well.”
Daniel Ward received a shirt and a calendar and said he was over the moon.
The 13-year-old, who suffers with anxiety, said: “It was amazing meeting the players. I go to all the home games so I was a bit starstruck.
“I think it’s fantastic that they do this as it really makes everyone’s day.”
It was a busy day for the Latics squad as the players split into groups to visit various community events across the borough.
As well as the Wigan Infirmary visit, players made visits to Hope School in Marus Bridge, Midstream in Skelmersdale, Willow Grove Primary School in Ashton and the Soccordome near the DW Stadium where the Disability School Games were taking place.