CARDIFF City spread some Christmas cheer in Sully, as they visited children with life-limiting illnesses at Ty Hafan.
The Bluebirds have plenty of reasons to smile this season, as they currently sit at the top of the league - but on Thursday last week they were putting smiles on the faces of local families at Ty Hafan, who were delighted to meet their footballing idols as they signed posters, posed for photos, and took part in a competition decorating a couple of Christmas trees.
Among the players who visited the facility on Hayes Road, which cares for children with illnesses such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy, were centre back Ben Turner, young star Joe Mason, Penarth resident and midfield maestro Peter Whittingham, winger Craig Conway, and fans' favourite Craig Bellamy.
Following a tour of the facility, which recently unveiled a new hydrotherapy pool, Wales International Bellamy said it was important to dedicate time whenever possible to causes such as Ty Hafan.
“Being a Cardiff lad, the significance of Ty Hafan in South Wales is not lost on me,” he said.
“The work they do day in and day out puts everything in perspective, and they are a fantastic charity.
“We are very proud of our association with Ty Hafan, and very proud to have them in the area," he added.
"They help a lot of children and families who have had a very hard time. The least we can do is come and put a smile on their faces - and that makes it all worthwhile for us anyway.”
The players were joined by long-time Ty Hafan supporter, TV presenter Anna Ryder-Richardson, who judged the Christmas tree competition.
“I had to call it a draw!” she said. “I could sense the competitive nature of the players and I didn’t want to upset anyone. You can see why they are top of the league!
“Events such as these help draw attention to the fantastic work that is done here,” she added.
“I would do anything for Ty Hafan. The care they provide is exceptional, and they help these children live short but beautiful lives. Every time I come here it melts my heart.”
Head of community fundraising at Ty Hafan, Frank Ady said: “Cardiff City support us season after season, and it’s a real privilege that they choose to continue doing that.
“They raise such fantastic awareness and you can see the delight of the children in the huge smiles on their faces. Nothing compares to meeting their heroes. These are days they will remember forever.”
Among the children who met the players was ten-year-old Matthew Rhys Boggis from Aberdare, who hasn’t missed a home game since the new stadium opened.
His mum, Carys, said: “The players are brilliant, and many of them recognise Rhys whenever they do events such as these and take the time to come and talk to him.
“Peter Whittingham was shopping in Cardiff once when he spotted Rhys and made the effort to come over and say hello. That sort of kindness speaks volumes.
“We can’t thank Ty Hafan enough either. They allow us to escape the worries and problems of daily life, and to enjoy our time with Rhys. It’s a really special place.”
The other half of the City squad - including captain Mark Hudson, Don Cowie, Aron Gunnarsson, Heidar Helguson, and Craig Noone - visited the University Hospital of Wales Sky Ward.