Children and families who access services at Demelza in Eltham, South East London, were delighted to welcome the manager and players from Charlton Athletic Football Club for a visit! 

Dean Holden, manager of the League One team, dropped in with players Ryan Inniss and Mandela Egbo, bringing gifts and spending the afternoon chatting to mums, dads, children, carers and staff.

First team regulars, Ryan and Mandela, spent the afternoon playing video games with the children, signing autographs and entertaining families and staff alike.

Mags, whose son Noah is cared for by the team at Demelza, came along with her husband and older son, Leo. Mags said: “Thanks to everyone at Demelza and Charlton for including us. We had a lovely time and really enjoyed meeting the team - they were all brilliant with the kids (and us!) and we really appreciate them taking time to chat to us all.”

For Charlton’s manager, Dean, visiting the charity was bittersweet as he knows more than most the pain of bereavement.

Dean said: “It’s really important for me as a manager to bring the players to Demelza to see what goes on here - it’s only when you come through the doors you see what a special place it is. Sometimes there’s a feeling there may be heartbreaking stories inside but when you come through the doors you realise what a special place it is, a place full of love and care and support.

Dean continued: “I lost my daughter 10 years ago at 17 months old so it’s always been really important to me as a manager to support these types of places and I can empathise with what some of the parents are going through.

The staff, I have to say, do an amazing job, the care and support they give is second to none, and the facilities are amazing. If there’s anything we can do as a club to support Demelza, we will. We are really glad to come down and we’ll be back soon”.

Lottie McElhinney, Children’s Palliative Care Nurse – Team Lead at Demelza, said: “A huge thank you to the team and staff at Charlton for taking time out of their training to spend time with the children and families, helping to celebrate the joy in life, and making precious memories during challenging times – it means so much”.

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