‘It made their Christmas’ Over 55s village gets surprise visit from Stoke City players

Date: 15/12/2023

Pictured: residents Ruby, Stan, Linda and, Phillip with their Stoke memorabilia

Residents from over 55s village received a visit from Stoke City footballers to help reduce loneliness this Christmas.

West End Village provides independent living for people over 55. The scheme provides residents with modern apartments, alongside social events to bring them together and prevent isolation.

As part of the festive calendar, staff surprised residents with a visit from Stoke City footballers Ciaran Clark and Enda Stevens earlier this month.  

The players visited the village to help with their Christmas light switch on and spoke to residents, took photos, signed memorabilia and sang Christmas carols.

Lifelong fan and resident Stan said the visit was such a lovely surprise and shows Stoke City really care about their fans and local community.

Pictured: resident Stan winning a signed Stoke City football shirt

“I started going to Stoke in 1956, the year my dad died. My older brothers used to go with him and when he passed, although I was only young, they invited me to come with them. It became something we did together in his memory”, said Stan.

“I married my wife Glen and in 1972 we both became season ticket holders. We’ve been going to matches religiously ever since.

“Supporting Stoke over the years has meant more to me than just watching the game. It’s been about bringing people together and making memories. Every week we’d get on the bus and see the same people and they’ve become our lifelong friends.

“That’s why having the Stoke players visit West End Village was so special. It was such a lovely surprise. It shows they care about their fans and the local community.”

Resident Ruby said she’s followed the club for most of her life after she sold match programmes with her dad as a child and getting to watch the match at half time. After losing her husband a couple of years ago, she said she’s appreciative of special events like this that help to make this time of year feel less lonely.

“We moved to the village three years ago, because my husband had reduced mobility”, explained Ruby.

“He passed away two years ago, and I live here on my own now. Although I know I’m surrounded by a great community of people, being by yourself at Christmas can make December a long and lonely month.

“It’s why I was over the moon when the village team arranged this special event. It helped to fill my day and as a long-time supporter it was special to meet the players.”

Pictured: resident Brenda with Stoke City players Ciaran Clark and Enda Stevens

Village Activities Coordinator, Nathan Smith said he arranged the visit to help spread the festive cheer.

“Christmas means a lot to our residents”, said Nathan.

“So many don’t have loved ones which means it’s a lonely time for them.

“In December I up the ante and try to make it as special as possible by packing the calendar full of exciting events.

“Earlier in the year I made a few appeals to local organisations to help make this year’s Christmas light switch on event special.

“When Stoke City’s charity, the Community Trust, replied to say they’d visit the village as part of their ongoing commitment to support the local community, I was over the moon!

“Located in the heart of Stoke, we have lots of residents who are SCFC fans, so having the players visit meant so much.

“It put smiles on so many faces and absolutely made their Christmas!”

Find out more about West End Village by visiting: www.staffshousing.org.uk/westendvillage  

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