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Football stars shine light on Gully's Place

AFC Bournemouth visit Gully's PlaceAFC Bournemouth stars Jermain Defoe and Junior Stanislas called in to Poole Hospital this week to find out more about Gully’s Place, our end of life care unit for children and their families, as well as younger patients with complex needs.

The unit is one of the Premier League team’s charities of the year, and is benefiting from profile-raising exposure on match days and support from the first team and staff.

On Wednesday, the players spent around an hour finding out more about the facility, meeting with staff and fundraisers including children’s unit matron Karen Fernley, chief executive Debbie Fleming, and Diane Gulliford (known as Gully), who leant her name and her fundraising to the unit to see it established in 2010.

They also talked to Duncan Collins, whose son Will was one of the first children to benefit from the unit.

“As players and as part of a football club, we want to do what we can to raise awareness and build the profile of the facility,” said Jermain. “But as people as well - many of us have children - it’s important for us to give back and to try and put a smile on the faces of children on the unit.

“We’re honoured to be here and it’s great for the football club to be involved and we’ll do whatever we can to help in the future.

“You can only imagine what the families are going through so to come here and to make the children happy and to put a smile on their faces is the best feeling.”

AFC Bournemouth visits Gully's Place with Duncan CollinsDuncan said Gully's Place had played an invaluable role in his family's lives.

“Gully’s Place allowed us to function as a family unit and to finally all be together under one roof rather than having Will stay at hospital and his ferrying his twin sister between the hospital and home,” he said.

“He was too poorly to be in the community and had to come back to hospital, so for those periods Gully’s Place was always there for us.

“It is a wonderful place where we could still operate as a family and to make sure our son was safe and looked after, and I don’t think we would have had the skillset to have made our family life as enjoyable as it was without this unit.

“I think it’s phenomenal that we have a focus on the suite from a local football team and to have their support is invaluable.

“Gully’s is now a name that is synonymous with our family life and I don’t know how any hospital can operate without something like it.”

Diane, who has tirelessly fundraised for Gully’s Place, was thrilled with the visit.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to have the players here because there are so many people who are fans and watch the matches every week and it means a lot for a child to be given a gift by a premier league footballer,” she Gully.

“We have our mascot, Gully Bear, at home games now so many more people are going to hear about Gully’s Place than ever before.

“The facility is everything I wanted it to be and it’s brilliant – it couldn’t be better.”

The players spent around an hour on Gully’s Place before visiting patients in the rest of the children’s unit.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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