Stoke City's Geoff Cameron visits local community
DELIGHTED pensioner Beryl Wood welcomed a Stoke City player in to her home for a mince pie as part of a festive community project.
The 82-year-old chatted with defender Geoff Cameron over a cup of tea – and even thanked him with a peck on the cheek.
The Potters' American number two joined dozens of young volunteers yesterday to hand deliver 'rescue packs' to the elderly across Stoke-on-Trent.
Armed with bags of Christmas cake, fruit loaf, tea and coffee the entourage visited homes in Burslem, Tunstall, Sandyford, Goldenhill and Middleport.
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Retired caterer Beryl, of Lyndhurst Street, Burslem, said: "It has been lovely to welcome them in to my house and we are very grateful."
Turning to the City player, she added: "My favourite football player was always Sir Stanley Matthews but now it is you."
Beryl's long-term partner Frank Bosson, aged 89, a former kiln worker, said: "I can still remember going to watch Stoke City play in 1942 but now I just watch them on the telly.
"The packs are great and we really appreciate the delivery – although I am trying to watch my figure."
Geoff helped make the deliveries to residents nominated by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, residents' associations and community groups.
The defender, between mouthfuls of mince pie, said: "The packs have been really well received by everyone today and it's a tremendous project to be involved with.
"We have all worked well together to make it happen and spread some cheer by having a few laughs along the way."
Pensioner George Loton was among around 200 households to receive one of the Co-operative packs.
The 77-year-old, of Albany Street, Goldenhill, said: "It is very nice of them to come and hand out Christmas bags. I know that people will be very grateful, especially those who may be on their own this Christmas."
The Co-operative Academy in Tunstall selected 16 students who were the top merit earners in each of its four community groups to take part.
The students helped plan the delivery route, pack and deliver the goodies.
Setting off from Sandyford Fire Station, they split into two groups with one making drop-offs in Ladywell Road, Nash Peake Street and High Street, Tunstall.
And the others visited Moran Grove, Navigation Street and Burgess Street Burslem, along with parts of Middleport and Goldenhill.
Headteacher Andy Stanier said: "It gives the children a chance to meet people in the community and in turn it helps change negative perceptions of young people.
"We want to demonstrate the values of respect and responsibility and this helps to achieve that."
Student Jake Panhurst, aged 11, from Burslem, enjoyed handing out the packages.
The Year 7 student said: "It has been nice to see the smiling faces when they open the door and realise the bags are for them.
"One lady was so happy that she kept thanking me.
"It feels a bit like being Santa for the day."
Adrian Hurst, head of community programme at Stoke City said: "The aim of the Stoke City Community Trust is to not only encourage people of all ages to get involved in sport, especially football, but to reach out to other groups of people within the local community and this a great way to do that."