Hospice inspires football legend Gerry to become an ambassador

31 July 2018

Football legend Gerry Armstrong has become the latest high-profile ambassador for the Northern Ireland Hospice after a humbling visit to the charity's facilities.

The former Northern Ireland striker met with officials during the recent SuperCup NI tournament, which had chosen the Children's Hospice as its nominated charity.

"We ended up visiting the Children's Hospice and spent two hours walking around the facilities and we were blown away by what they do - it was overwhelming," he said.

"It's so important for the patients and their families who are also suffering.We already knew it was a very worthwhile cause, but now we have decided to do something."

The Sky Sports commentator and football analyst (64) is best known for scoring the winning goal against Spain in the 1982 World Cup, and now lives in Mallorca

He was accompanied by his wife Deborah (42), their two daughters Caitlin (18) and Marianna (11) and his sister-in-law Dawn on the eye-opening visit last Thursday.

Gerry said it had profound impact on each of them.

"It was a valuable lesson for all of us. It really hits home when you see a little eight-year-old girl who is terminally ill.

"It's no surprise that people like Brendan Rodgers and Eamonn Holmes have already got behind the hospice."

Following in the footsteps of the Celtic boss and TV presenter, Gerry will now act as a figurehead for the Northern Ireland Hospice and Children's Hospice.

As an official ambassador he has vowed to lend his support to assist with campaigning, raising awareness and fundraising.

The footballing great, who fell in love with Spain and became fluent in the language during a two-year stint with Real Mallorca in the mid-1980s, said the visit was particularly beneficial for his two children.

"Marianna just thinks like any other 11-year-old and Caitlin has university and exams to worry about," he said.

"I hope things like this will help them become better people who are willing to give up some time for a truly great cause.

"We all have our problems, but when you go in there you realise they aren't as big as you thought."

The former Tottenham Hotspur star, who only started playing the game while serving a Gaelic football ban in his teens, said he was particularly moved after reading through a book which archives the thoughts of patients and family members.

"It is heart-wrenching stuff," he added.

Gerry, who is enjoying two weeks at home in Belfast with his family, believes that living abroad has its own unique fundraising opportunities, but he also plans to maximise his platform within the world of football.

"There are a lot of expats living in Spain, so Deborah and I will be talking to our friends when we get back," he said.

"I'm in London all the time with work and I will definitely be talking to international footballers and telling them how worthwhile this charity is."