Jay (30) is already an ambassador for Pendleside and was full of praise for the hospice after his grandad died here only a few weeks ago.
The Burnley-born goal ace, who has also played for Southampton and West Brom as well as winning one cap for England, said: “In these unprecedented times we mustn’t forget such vital places as Pendleside Hospice. It probably needs help now more than ever before. And to be without the hospice is unthinkable.”
Pendleside expects to lose around £1m. in fundraising cash over the next few months with two of its biggest events – the Pendle Pub Walk which raises around £100,000 and the Corporate Challenge, £150,000 – already being postponed.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak Pendleside has had to also close all of its 10 shops which annually raise more than £600,000.
Jay’s grandad Brian Threlfall, formerly an electrician with Norweb, died aged 76 after being cared for at Pendleside.
Jay said: “The care my grandad received was unbelievable. When he was in hospital the NHS nurses were great and while they are working as hard as they can they are always at full stretch.
“At the hospice it was different. Nurses there were given the time to care not only for my grandad but our whole family.
“Both my grandad and grandma, Dylis, had always followed my football career with lots of pride.
“And when me and my brother Joey were young, along with my cousin Kyle, they used to look after us a lot and we always loved going to their house.”
Helen McVey, chief executive of Pendleside, said: “It’s great having Jay lead the Keep Your Hospice Open campaign. Being a locally born star he is an iconic figure in the town and respected by both young and old alike. I can’t thank him enough for coming on board at our time of need.”
Jay got involved as an ambassador for Pendleside after his best friend’s grandma was cared for there.
He said: “When she died my friend was distraught but he couldn’t thank the staff at Pendleside enough for the great work they did for his grandma.”
And of the Keep Your Hospice Open campaign Jay said: “The Burnley area is such a special place. We all pull together for each other and that was one reason me and my wife Simone wanted to return to the area.
“So I know the campaign will get lots of backing from local people because they know how vital a place the hospice is.”
It costs more than £4m. a year to run Pendleside of which less than £1m. is provided by the NHS.
The other £3m. plus is raised by the generous donations made by the people of Burnley and Pendle.