Refs' kindness at hospital

Gazette: Colchester Referees' Society handing out presents to the Colchester General Hospital Children's Unit. Dave Duffett, Ernie Osbourne and Jim Haynes with Junior Hart, 10. Colchester Referees' Society handing out presents to the Colchester General Hospital Children's Unit. Dave Duffett, Ernie Osbourne and Jim Haynes with Junior Hart, 10.

REFEREES swapped red cards for Christmas cards as they visited Colchester General Hospital’s children’s unit.

Members of Colchester Referees’ Society distributed gifts to sick youngsters.

During their 13th consecutive annual visit they also left presents which will stay on the unit for future patients. The referees officiate at mainly senior, but also junior, matches.

Organiser Dave Duffett said: “Every year we have a collection and spend the money on presents for children on the unit at Christmas time.

“The unit also gave us a list of items they want to remain there year-round, so they are available to all youngsters who pass through.

“I would like to thank Argos, the Early Learning Centre and Homebase for their generous support.”

Gifts delivered by the refs included DVDs, Lego, keyboards, farm and safari animals, toy dinosaurs and trains.

The visit was also in memory of Kieran Mallett, who died of a brain haemorrhage, aged seven, shortly after referees met him during the Christmas, 2005.

Mr Duffett keeps in touch with Kieran’s family and each year presents a cheque on behalf of his parents, Val and Adrian, to staff at the unit to spend on children in their care.

Lynda Pearce, matron of children’s services, said: “The staff and youngsters on the unit are big fans of Colchester Referees’ Society. We really appreciate the support they have given us over many years.

“Being in hospital is never fun, especially so for children over Christmas, but the refs really do help make a difference.”

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