A young Manchester City football fan whose older sister receives respite care at Francis House Children’s Hospice in Didsbury had an unforgettable Christmas video call with two members of Manchester City’s women’s team.
After coronavirus put paid to the club’s plans for their annual Christmas visit to the hospice, a series of calls took place to ensure that the men’s and women’s players could still meet with the poorly children, young people and their families.
Among them were Kaitlin Brookshaw, 10, and mum Andrea, from Ashton-under-Lyne, on a special video link-up with players Esme Morgan and Megan Campbell.
Kaitlin’s older sister Isabel attends Francis House for respite care after waking up one morning seven years ago, unable to breathe, talk or move.
“Kaitlin is a big City fan, we’ve been to a few of the women’s team’s matches and met some of the players on their amazing annual Christmas visits to the hospice,” Andrea said.
“Being able to speak to them one to one was a unique experience. Everyone was chatty, and Kaitlin and I had our City jumpers on, so they really liked that.”
Isabel, 14, is extremely clinically vulnerable with complex medical needs, epilepsy and has daily seizures.
For all hospice families, lockdown has been especially tough. To protect Isabel from coronavirus, Andrea and the girls never left the safety of the house and garden for five months.
Throughout the pandemic Francis House has offered emergency respite care to children and young people, enabling their families to have a much-needed break.
“We are lucky Isabel has been able to come to Francis House for emergency respite,” added Andrea.
“It helps me massively and gives my body, and back, some time to recover. It’s hard work lifting Isabel in and out of bed and into the shower.”
Lifelong City fan Matthew Gilmore, 25, also spoke with players Rodri and Aymeric Laporte, who were impressed to hear of his skills in wheelchair football.
“I enjoyed speaking to the players and it was interesting to hear that manager Pep Guardiola speaks so many different languages, I wondered how he did it,” said Matthew.
“My dad was always interested in football and I got into it when I started playing wheelchair football aged eleven. It’s great they took the time to call us.”