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Virtual mascot experience for Manchester Francis House hospice sibling

Manchester City Women's players make matchday dreams come true

Virtual mascot experience for Manchester Francis House hospice sibling

"Life can seem to focus on Isabel and her needs, so it was good for everything to be about Kaitlin. I would like to thank Manchester City Football Club and players for making Kaitlin feel important."
Andrea Brookshaw, Kaitlin's mum

The stands at the Academy Stadium may have been empty of spectators for the FA Women’s Super League match between Manchester City and Reading, but one lucky young fan was given an exclusive touchline view with a virtual mascot experience.  

Ten-year-old Kaitlin Brookshaw watched with delight - via a virtual camera positioned at the top of the tunnel - as her favourite Manchester City Women’s players warmed up for the match.

Football mad Kaitlin was invited to take part in the new match day experience as a virtual mascot, after staff at Francis House Children’s Hospice contacted the Club.

Kaitlin’s sister Isabel (15) receives respite care at the hospice in Didsbury and needs round the clock care after waking up one morning seven years ago, unable to breathe, talk or move.

“Kaitlin is a big City fan,” said mum Andrea, “we’ve been to a few of the women’s team’s matches and met some of the players on their amazing annual Christmas visits to the hospice.”

At home in Ashton-under-Lyne, Kaitlin and her sister Eden help Andrea care for Isabel, selflessly giving up their own activities to keep her safe.

Players including Captain Steph Houghton, who recently reached 200 appearances for the Club, spoke directly to Kaitlin at home through the video link.

Ellen White liked Kaitlin’s butterfly wallpaper and Esme Morgan remembered meeting the family at the hospice. She said: “Are you excited for the game? Hopefully, we can win for you.”

As Junior Cityzen of the Match, Kaitlin also featured on the big screen before kick-off, appearing as the twelfth player when the team sheet was read out.

Kaitlin said: “I was happy and excited. I enjoyed saying hello to the players.”

A letter from her favourite player Georgia Stanway, a City goody bag including a full kit and inclusion in the digital matchday programme rounded off a memorable day for the family.

Andrea said: “It made me feel proud of Kaitlin and I really appreciate the help of Francis House for giving her the opportunity.

“Life can seem to focus on Isabel and her needs, so it was good for everything to be about Kaitlin. I’d like to thank Manchester City Football Club, the players and everyone behind the scenes for the experience and for making Kaitlin feel important.”

As the Coronavirus situation continues to improve and the vaccination programme gathers momentum, Francis House will once again be inviting all members of the family - not just the sick child - to stay at the hospice. A prospect that Andrea and her daughters are looking forward to very much.

And for Kaitlin, she is looking forward to spending time with her family and friends and going back to attending matches.

City went on to win the match 1 – 0 with a last-minute goal by Chloe Kelly.

To support Francis House visit www.francishouse.org.uk


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