A Burnley-born striker whose grandfather was cared for by a hospice has surprised patients and staff with a festive visit.

Clarets striker Jay Rodriguez and Burnley FC Women’s defender Sarah Agger met patients, staff and volunteers from Pendleside Hospice.

Jay has been a Pendleside ambassador for more than three years and helped in the height of the pandemic, buying PPE while it was scarce.

The 30-year-old striker said: “It was an absolute pleasure to visit Pendleside at this time of year. To meet some of the day-care patients and to listen to their own stories as well as their stories about Burnley FC was really interesting.

“It’s not so long ago that I lost my grandad at Pendleside and both myself and my family couldn’t thank everyone there enough for the care they gave him. We will always be grateful and if there is anything possible for me to do for this great place I will do.”

During the visit Jay volunteered to wear the full PPE that nurses wear at times on duty in the inpatients’ unit and said that what they do is 'unbelievable' and 'amazing'.

Hospice patient and Clarets fan Anthony Ruth, 59, has suffered cancer three times. In the past he helped run Burnley Community football team for players with learning difficulties and the disabled.

He said: “I didn’t want to miss meeting Jay. He is one of our own. I have followed him all of his career from being a youngster at Turf Moor, to playing for Southampton and West Brom, and now back with us.”

Jay and Sarah also met Turf Moor season ticket holder Gordon Hale, 66, a retired cleaner at Thomas Whittam High School, who attends the peer group meetings at Pendleside.

He said: “It was great chatting to Jay. I have been a Burnley fan since I was a baby so today was a real Christmas treat.”

Pendleside’s chief executive Helen McVey said: “There was a lot of excitement around the hospice when we knew Jay and Sarah were visiting. Staff and patients wanted to meet them and brought in memorabilia for them to sign.

“Jay is a wonderful ambassador and has worked incredibly hard during the pandemic to help keep us providing the high standard of service that we are proud to offer people with life-limiting illnesses and their families.”