MLB

Exclusive: Burnley star Jay Rodriguez on selflessly giving back as a proud ambassador of Lancashire-based charity Pendleside Hospice, reveals the joy of visiting patients with life-threatening illnesses

Burnley star, Jay Rodriguez, 30, who has scored seven goals in 26 games for Sean Dyche’s Clarets this season after returning to Turf Moor last summer in a £5 million switch from West Bromich Albion, has been making a positive mark both off the pitch as much as the Burnley-born forward has had on the field.

Rodriguez, who has won one international cap for England, a 2-0 friendly loss against Chile at Wembley Stadium on November 15, 2013, has officially served as a proud ambassador for Reedley-based Pendleside Hospice since November 2017; the hard-working Burnley forward holds the distinction of being the first-ever Pendleside Hospice celebrity ambassador.

However, Rodriguez’s proud ambassadorial role with Pendleside Hospice since coming on board as an ambassador has witnessed the ever-generous Burnley frontman serve as a staunch advocate of the charity, which has seen Rodriguez actively promote and raise widespread awareness of Pendleside Hospice’s charity fundraiser events, fundraisers and initiatives throughout the local communities of Burnley and Pendle.

Furthermore, Rodriguez who voluntarily continues to selflessly pay special visits to the East Lancashire-based charity, often visits Pendleside Hospice with his beloved wife Simone and his Spanish father, Enrique, affectionately known as Kiko.

Moreover, unwell Pendleside Hospice patients, with debilitating life-limiting illnesses, have been routinely greeted with genuine warmth, positive engagement and humility by their hometown hero and his family, who have continued to humbly and sincerely give back to the local community.

In December 2017, while playing for West Bromich Albion, Rodriguez participated in Pendleside Hospice’s unique Christmas bag packing operation, which saw the former Southampton star embark on a 240-mile trip from the West Midlands to the Burnley town centre to attend a very special Pendleside Hospice charity fundraiser hosted at Marks and Spencer situated on Burnley’s town centre on St James Street; Rodriguez spent 40 minutes at Marks and Spencer and served customers at the cash register, posed for selfies and signed autographs for shoppers.

In 2018, the down-to-earth Rodriguez participated in Pendleside Hospice’s 5km charity fundraiser run in Burnley’s Edwardian urban Thompson Park, which opened in 1930 and has retained many of its original features;  Pendleside Hospice’s 5km charity fundraiser event raised £20,000 for the hospice.

Rodriguez, who also donates to the Pendleside Hospice, has also been joined by BBC Radio 1’s Jordan North and BBC Radio Lancashire presenter Albia Begum, both of whom were named as Pendleside Hospice celebrity ambassadors in 2019; North and Begum are both devoted Clarets supporters.

FOX Sports Radio 96.9FM/1340AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with Burnley star, Jay Rodriguez, to discuss his proud ambassador role with Pendleside Hospice, visiting patients with life-threatening illnesses, the strong community spirit throughout Burnley and Pendle, coupled alongside Rodriguez sharing his long-term goals as an ambassador of Pendleside Hospice.

 

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Jay, first and foremost can you touch on how you initially became a proud Ambassador for Pendleside Hospice and, of course, the positive enrichment your association with the hospice has brought to the attention of people throughout the community in Burnley?

Jay Rodriguez: I have friends that have experienced their services (at Pendleside Hospice) and no one can speak highly enough of their experience.

I hope that using my connections to football and the young people across the (Lancashire) area, I can get the message out there that this place is so special and must be preserved for the patients of the future.

 

Dean Perretta: Can you talk about your long-term goals and mission statement as a proud Ambassador for Pendleside Hospice?

Jay Rodriguez: Long term, I want to help Pendleside raise more awareness of the services they offer. They do such amazing work in our community but I think sometimes people almost don’t want to hear about it because they don’t want to think about hospice care. It can be very frightening to think you need to use the hospice but whilst some people do die at Pendleside, their death is as pain-free and dignified as possible and those that are not dying really do make the most of life. There’s always something going on and the staff and volunteers (at Pendleside Hospice) go to extraordinary lengths to give patients and their families the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual support they need.

My goal is to help Pendleside to spread the word to everyone in Burnley and Pendle that the hospice is here for them, even if they haven’t lost a loved one at the hospice, they can still access bereavement support and even though Pendleside is an adult hospice, they provide support for bereaved children, too. That’s not something that’s readily available in the area.

 

Dean Perretta: Pendleside Hospice has a broad range of Patient and Carer support from Dementia Support, Bereavement Support, Psychological Support to Day Services and Spiritual Support to name a few of the many professional care services which the hospice provides. However, can you share your own great experiences with regards to your visits to Pendleside Hospice?

Jay Rodriguez: Whenever I visit Pendleside I’m overwhelmed by the impact I have (around the patients). The people of Burnley are extremely proud of their town so they’re always pleased to see me but when I re-signed for Burnley FC (last summer) it was even better. The staff tells the patients that I’m coming in and they all bring in football shirts and memorabilia for me to sign. Everyone wants a selfie too, I feel like a real star! The best bit though is seeing how much my spending some time with each of the patients really means to them. For those few minutes they can forget about their pain, their worries and the stress that their illness creates and just be a football fan. We talk about the latest (Burnley) game, our position in the table, predictions for the future and for a while patients say they feel “normal”. That makes my day.

 

Dean Perretta: Can you talk about Pendleside Hospice’s Fundraising and Corporate Challenge events and where donations can be pledged?

Jay Rodriguez: The fundraising team work really hard to bring in the phenomenal funds needed to provide the hospice’s services. Pendleside makes no charge for the services it offers but there is obviously a cost to providing them. That means that as well as a small contribution from the government, the hospice relies heavily on the local community’s support. Individuals raise money by doing sponsored events; all sorts from head shaves to marathons and everything in-between! While companies get involved in the Pendleside Corporate Challenge, which involves them turning £50 seed money into as much as they can over a four month period.

 

Dean Perretta: Lastly, Pendleside Hospice won the Health and Care Business Award at Lancashire Business View’s 2019 Red Rose Awards. Can you talk about this accolade from the perspective of an Ambassador and what it ultimately means for the hospice to receive such positive recognition?

Jay Rodriguez: As an ambassador, I was extremely proud of Pendleside of winning the Red Rose Award. In fact, they’ve had an amazing year where awards are concerned, winning the Third Sector Business of the Year Award too at the BiBAs. As someone in the public eye, you get lots of requests to support good causes and it can be upsetting that you can’t support them all. Pendleside has always been a cause close to my family’s heart and them winning these awards really reaffirms for me that I’m using my time effectively and supporting a worthy charity.