Leeds Rhinos stars provide timely tonic for kids

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They are famed for their tough, uncompromising approach on the rugby pitch.

But today Leeds Rhinos stars showed their caring side as they brought Christmas cheer to poorly youngsters in the city.

Jamie Peacock with eight-year-old Lucas Stafford-Shaw.

Jamie Peacock with eight-year-old Lucas Stafford-Shaw.

Danny McGuire, Kylie Leuluai and Paul Aiton were among the players who took part in the club’s annual festive visit to the children’s wards at Leeds General Infirmary.

They gave out presents to patients who at this time of year are more in need of a morale-boosting pick-me-up than ever.

McGuire said: “The visit is something I look forward to every year and it really feels like Christmas is here when we start giving out the gifts.

“We are privileged to do what we do, playing the sport we love for a living and being in the public eye.

“It is nice that we can come here, give a bit back and put a smile on the face of some kids who are going through a tough time at the moment.

“To be honest, since becoming a father myself it hit me a bit harder this year, you never want to think of your child being poorly and it was nice to speak to some of the parents and hear how much they appreciated us calling in.

“Some of the children had older brothers or sisters who were big Rhinos fans too so we were able to leave a few gifts for them too.”

Leuluai, meanwhile, said: “It is tough for the families who have to spend most of their time over Christmas in hospital and hopefully we can do a little bit to brighten up their day if not their week.

“The annual visit is something we always look forward to.

“I strongly believe that’s what we should be all about as a human race, helping out each other and showing love and compassion to others.

“As much as the kids enjoy the visit, it is also great for us and is very rewarding.”

Hospital play leader Neoma Jacobs said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the Rhinos have visited the Leeds Children’s Hospital to deliver presents to the wards.

“It makes such a massive difference to our patients, some of whom are really sick.

“It has definitely brightened up a few days!

“We all think it’s wonderful that the team have taken time out of their busy schedules to spend time with their young, and not so young, fans here at the hospital.”

Also present were staff members from the Leeds Rhinos Foundation charity, who have been working on a project with the LGI paediatric intensive care unit.

The hospital has areas where the relatives of young patients can stay and the foundation has donated furniture for two of the rooms, which have been refurbished.

Club legend Jamie Peacock unveiled a plaque that marked the official opening of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation family rooms.

Foundation community manager Leon Crick said: “We are delighted to be able to offer our support.

“We understand how difficult it is for families who have a sick child in hospital, and we know the fantastic work the hospital does to help keep the family close to their child, and we hope this donation will help to make what is obviously a tough time a little more bearable.”

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