Hospital football pitch tribute to Stoke City legend Gordon Banks
POORLY children will be able to boost their recovery with a game of football after a pitch was set up at a hospital.
The playing surface has been created at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire's children's oncology department.
Boasting two sets of goals and a marked out pitch, the area was set up as a tribute to one of the hospital's biggest supporters – Stoke City legend Gordon Banks.
Gordon said: "Lots of children love football and I think it is an excellent idea having something like this.
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"A lot of people raise money for the hospital and it is very nice of them to think of me when putting this together."
And fund-raisers at the hospital are hoping to build on the attraction with the support of well-wishers.
UHNS charity manager Steve Rushton, said: "We thought something like a football pitch would be a good way of commemorating the work that Gordon has done for us and the time he gives."
Organisers say the World Cup winner has handed over around £200,000 over the years from fund-raising initiatives.
A play area at the previous Cheethams Children's Ward was called 'Gordon's Garden' in tribute to the ex-player. The new facility is also expected to be named after the 75-year-old.
The football area has been decked out with rubber flooring and is complemented by a play area. Future plans include constructing a canopy.
Janet Hagan, aspiring matron for children's health, said: "It helps us to promote well being and facilitates their rehabilitation.
"It can really aid recovery and through play children will open up to us about any problems they may be having."
And the play facility – which is roughly 30 by 60 yards – has also been welcomed by patients and relatives.
Lynn Clarke's 11-year-old son Ben Woolliscroft is currently on the children's ward with an ear infection.
Housewife Lynn, aged 30, of Cheadle, who has one other son Harry Clarke, aged two, said: "Ben is due to have an operation on his ear in February but he is in a lot of pain at times and has been in hospital this week as he has had a high temperature. When he is well enough he really enjoys going to the outside area. It really helps break his day up."
Stoke City fan Ben, a pupil at St Werburgh's Primary School, said: "I do really enjoy going outside. It's nice to play football when I feel well enough."