Watford FC stars like Troy Deeney and Tom Cleverly are among those backing a Christmas campaign to fund festive gifts for NHS staff and patients in West Hertfordshire.

This year’s Raise a Smile campaign features the Hornets players along with Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor and MP Dean Russell, to encourage donations over the festive period.

The annual campaign first began in 2018 to support staff and patients over Christmas – a season that generally proves to be a busier period in the year for UK hospitals.

And this year, with the Covid-19 pandemic occupying hospital beds on top of general winter admissions, the campaign hopes to uplift even more struggling staff and patients with various gifts.

In fact due to the current situation this year, staff and patients are likely to have very limited time with their loved ones during Christmas.

Watford Observer: Troy Deeney, Tom Cleverly, Will Hughes, Dean Russell and Peter Taylor were among those who shared supportTroy Deeney, Tom Cleverly, Will Hughes, Dean Russell and Peter Taylor were among those who shared support

Sofia Sheikh, Charity Director said: “Staff and patients are in need of Christmas cheer, especially following a year of extreme pressures. Patients are more isolated than normal due to visiting restrictions and we want to bring some festive spirit to all who are in hospital over the Christmas period.”

Donations to the campaign could help buy art supplies for children, a wellbeing pack for staff, or go towards providing equipment or enhancing patient care.

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, who starts off a promotional video, said: “Many people have faced big challenges this year. The people of Watford have banded together to support everyone in need in the community.

“People in hospital over Christmas will have a particularly tough time, as Covid imposes restrictions on visitors. I am glad to be a part of the Raise a Smile campaign and hope that the rest of Watford will help me in spreading a little festive cheer to those in West Herts hospitals.”

Deeney, Cleverly and Will Hughes, who also feature, said: “We were delighted to be part of this important campaign at this most crucial of times.

“This Christmas, more than ever perhaps, the NHS needs our support and we were only too happy to feature in this fantastic campaign. Every penny donated will make a difference and I'm confident the kind people of Watford and beyond will dig deep to support a charity dedicated to NHS staff and patients in West Herts.”

The Watford MP called it an “honour” to feature in the video and congratulated the “fantastic job” of supporting staff and patient care at the three hospital sites.

Donations will go towards local hospitals across Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

To make a difference, people are encouraged to donate via text or via our website at www.raisewestherts.org.uk. Text 5SMILENHS to 70085 to donate £5, text 10SMILENHS to 70085 to donate £10 or text 20SMILENHS to 70085 to donate £20.