Ipswich Town Football Club and Crystal Palace make ‘dream come true’

A dream has come true for Richard Sanders after he got to see his beloved Crystal Palace take on Ipswich Town Football Club.

From Woodbridge, Richard Sanders who is 42-years-old lives with pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with a complete atrioventricular heart defect, and has been supported by young adult service Zest since 2015 – a unique service which is part of the St Elizabeth Hospice Group and provides support to upwards living with progressive and life-limiting illnesses.

Following a difficult time for Richard over the last year or so, due to lockdowns, he was unable to attend Zest activities to receive support and see his friends as he would normally do so. Richard’s family, and the Zest staff, contacted Ipswich Town Football Club to see if they could help make Richard’s ‘dream come true’ and see his beloved Crystal Palace take on the Tractor Boys on 24 July.

Thanks to Ipswich Town Football Club, Richard not only attended the game at Portman Road but he also met many of his Palace heroes, including Wilfried Zaha and Patrick Vieira, as well as received a signed Crystal Palace shirt for him to cherish the memorable day. 

Richard meets Crystal Palace manager, Patrick Vieira, photo by the Sanders family.

Richard’s sister, Helen Sanders, said: “It was an amazing day. After coming out of lockdown, which had meant Richard had to shield for long periods of time, we saw ‘old Richard’ reignited and come to life, it was very special and he was just buzzing.

“It was a real dream come true for him and we are so thankful to Ipswich Town Football Club and Crystal Palace for making it such a brilliant day. 

“Also a big ‘thank you’ must go to the Zest team who provide Richard and our family with a safe space, somewhere we know he can receive the support he needs and also enjoy himself. Richard has a real zest for life and Zest enables him to achieve his ambitions!”

Zest ensures all the young people, under its care, receive specialist support, tailored treatment and services needed to be able to enjoy life to the full.

From its industry-unique Short Breaks, which allows young people to take time out from being at home while also providing families with vital respite. Through to its parent support group and monthly X-Change evening social group for patients, Zest enables young adults with challenging conditions to fulfil their aspirations. Whether this is to manage symptoms, access opportunities in the community or reduce loneliness by enabling them to have fun with friends.

Dan Palfrey, Public Relations Manager at Ipswich Town Football Club, said: “We’re delighted that Richard and his carers were able to attend our friendly against Crystal Palace. 

“With the Club’s long-standing relationship with the hospice, we’ve met Richard a number of times, and he always mentions his beloved Crystal Palace! He is always such a character on any Club visits to the hospice, and we’re delighted that they had a great experience.”

To find out more about Zest call 01473 727776 or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/zest

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