Players from Stevenage FC have visited Garden House Hospice as part of their charity partnership.

Carl Piergianni, Ben Thompson and Dan Butler learned more about how the hospice operates, visited some of the inpatients, and held a question and answer session at the hospice.

They visited on December 14, ahead of their match against Exeter.

The players gave out some Stevenage FC-branded goodies to patients and other members of the hospice community, and were also able to gift Christmas presents donated by the Stevenage branch of TSB to children at the event.

Carl Piergianni, the club captain, said: "They do fantastic work here. To see the level of care people receive is very humbling."

The Comet: The players handed out gifts to people at the Hospice.The players handed out gifts to people at the Hospice. (Image: Garden House Hospice Care)

Left-back Dan Butler added: "I didn’t realise just how much work the staff do. It shocked me. The funding is so important, people need the Hospice."

The partnership also caught the attention of BBC Look East, who visited to capture the player's visit to the Hospice, and broadcast it on BBC One.

Two of the special guests at the event were Vivien and Derek Underwood, who have supported Stevenage for nearly fifty years.

When the charity partnership with Garden House Hospice Care was announced, they bought the specially-released Stevenage FC shirts the same day and have proudly worn them since.

The Hospice is close to their hearts after Alan - Vivien's husband and Derek's dad - died in the Hospice six years ago.

The Comet: From L to R: Vivien Underwood, Ben Thompson, Derek Underwood, Carl Piergianni and Dan Butler.From L to R: Vivien Underwood, Ben Thompson, Derek Underwood, Carl Piergianni and Dan Butler. (Image: Garden House Hospice Care)

Alan supported Stevenage Football Club from its foundation in 1976, and even took on a volunteer role at the ground after he retired. He introduced his son, Derek, to the club at a young age, and they attended games together for decades.

"Dad and I went to games together for years. It was our thing. The club means a lot to us, we have so many memories there and they have been so great to us as a family.

"When Dad died, a few people from the club came to his funeral, and they even let us have his wake at the football club, gifting the food and function room in memory of Dad. It was so kind."

Vivien remembers Alan's time at the Hospice fondly and was thrilled to see the partnership announced.

"When we found out Garden House Hospice Care was the club's charity of the year we felt so proud, it is such a brilliant cause. We bought the charity shirts that same day and wear them all the time to help raise awareness.

The Comet: Members of the Hospice's community were able to put their questions to the players at a Q&A session.Members of the Hospice's community were able to put their questions to the players at a Q&A session. (Image: Garden House Hospice Care)

"My husband passed away six and a half years ago from bowel cancer. The Hospice supported Alan at home, helping us understand his condition, balance his medication and help relieve his pain.

"We were so comfortable with the team. When your husband is unwell at home and people you don't know come round to care it could feel very strange but not with the Hospice.

"He was so comfortable with them, as were we. We felt a part of what was going on, we knew how Alan was and were communicated with and looked after so well as a wife and son."

Vivien said they "were so relieved" when Alan got a bed in the inpatient unit at the Hospice.

"I can't do anything but praise the staff. Alan, Derek and I were all looked after so well it was wonderful. On brighter days we would walk with him in the garden or sit on the patio in the sunshine chatting. The garden at the Hospice is a special place, a place Derek and I now walk around before my counselling sessions here. It brings us closer to him and our memories again. It means so much.

"The counselling I receive today is really helping, I feel so much better afterwards and so grateful to have the Hospice in my life.

"It was the best place for Alan to be at the end of life and the support before and after is hard to put into words. There really is no place like it."

The charity partnership aims to raise £30,000 for palliative care and support for local families in Stevenage and North Herts.

Replicas of the special edition charity shirt are available to purchase at and from the Stevenage FC Club Shop.