A patient at Ashgate Hospicecare spent a VIP day with the Spireites players and management on Thursday.
Chris Stoddart, who has a long-term illness and attends the Living Well programme at the Day Hospice at Ashgate Hospicecare each week, was invited to the training ground where she met everyone and watched the players being put through their paces.
Afterwards, Chris and her husband Tony, who have been fans for over 50 years, enjoyed lunch with the players and staff at the Proact. Chris said: “I just feel overwhelmed. It’s like a dream come true coming here today! I was 18 years old when I first saw Chesterfield play, so I’ve been with them through their highs and lows, but I never thought I’d get to the meet all the players.
"My husband and I have been to nearly every single match. I missed a few when I was going through treatment and I was really upset about that, but I knew I was too ill and it wouldn’t have been good for me.
"It's been marvellous coming to the Day Hospice every week. I really didn’t like it on my first day because they wouldn’t let me lift a finger and I’m not used to that! I also didn’t know anybody at first, however the activities co-ordinator, Lucy, took me under her wing and made me feel at home.
"Now I love doing all the crafts and I’ve made some really nice friends there in the patients and the staff. Once I had a foot massage I knew it was for me! I absolutely loved it! Now after being invited on this VIP day at Chesterfield Football Club, it couldn’t really get any better!
"I’m so grateful to Mr Allen for inviting me and to all the players for their kindness. I’ll treasure these memories forever… I can’t wait for the season to start now and we’ll be cheering them all on from the sidelines!”
Martin Allen said: “It has an absolute pleasure having Chris and Tony with us today. Chris is an inspiration to us all and I think the players have a lot to learn from her.
"It’s fantastic to hear that Chris is going on her holiday very soon and so I’ve asked all the players to contribute to a little holiday fund for her.
"Ashgate Hospicecare do an amazing job and I feel so proud to support them and all they do across the community. We look forward to bringing the players to the Hospice in a few weeks time and building on this special partnership throughout the year.”
Julie Foster, matron at Ashgate Hospicecare, who accompanied Chris and Tony on the day, said: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic that Chesterfield Football Club have chosen the hospice as their Charity of the Year.
"Their support in the hospice’s 30th year will make a massive difference to the lives of our patients, ensuring that we can keep delivering specialist care to patients both in their homes and in the hospice so that they can continue to have the best possible quality of life with a life-limiting illness.
"The Day Hospice plays such an important part in looking after our patients out in the community. When they come into the hospice, they can not only get seen by medical staff, but they are also able to enjoy spending time with patients who might be going through something similar to them; they can also play games, do activities and have complementary therapies.
"We run the Living Well programme once a week, which is more of a social day for patients who have an illness but who do not need to see doctors. Those days are all about enjoying life and that supports our philosophy that hospices should not be focused on death and dying.
"These Living Well days are a lifeline to those out in the community who may not have anyone else to share their experiences with. Today has been such an incredible day for Chris and her husband and I feel privileged to be a part of it.”