Welsh rugby star Leigh Halfpenny visits children's hospice Ty Hafan

Penarth Times: FESTIVE VISIT: Leigh Halfpenny with Jacob Ferriday and 23-month-old Junior Bird FESTIVE VISIT: Leigh Halfpenny with Jacob Ferriday and 23-month-old Junior Bird

WELSH rugby star Leigh Halfpenny made a festive visit to children’s hospice Ty Hafan last week for the first time since he was made an ambassador of the charity.

BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year Leigh, who was also second in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards on the weekend, signed autographs and mingled with youngsters at the Sully-based children’s hospice.

Leigh, who was voted man of the tournament for Wales after this year’s Six Nations as well as Man of the Series from the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, said he was proud to be associated with the charity that cares for life-limited children.

“Ty Hafan is one charity I was really excited about helping out and being part of,” he said.

“It was an obvious choice for me, the work they do here is incredible and the people that are part of it are incredible too and I feel very proud to be associated with Ty Hafan.”

Jacob Ferriday was one of the lucky youngsters that was given the chance to meet Leigh.

Jacob, 17, was only a baby when he first visited T? Hafan. He was referred to T? Hafan in 1998 before the hospice was even built.

One of seven children Jacob, who is staying at the hospice for short break care, suffers from the condition encephalopathy – a brain disorder which means he has profound learning difficulties, development delay and epilepsy.

His mum, Sally, said: “I’m sure Jacob had a fantastic time. He’s been going to T? Hafan for 15 years now. The hospice is so wonderful at Christmas time.

“Jacob has stayed there in December a few times and he absolutely loves it.”

Earlier in the week Cardiff City players, including Peter Whittingham, Peter Odemwingie and Kim Bo-kyung, also visited the hospice and got into the festive spirit by helping users make Christmas decorations.

Sally added: “Jacob met Cardiff City players on Tuesday and Leigh Halfpenny yesterday. He loves lots of activity and I’m so pleased he was able to enjoy the experience.”

Nikomi Lewis, mum to 23-month-old Junior Bird, who suffers from Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy, added that Junior also enjoyed the opportunity to meet 24-year-old Leigh Halfpenny last Wednesday, December 11.

“We all had a great day. It was wonderful to see Leigh spending time with Junior. Junior has improved so much since being at T? Hafan. It is such a fantastic charity and we are so grateful for everything they’ve done.”

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