Local retirement home guests had a surprise visitor during their trip to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium

Residents from local retirement home Pembroke House got a very special tour of Priestfield Stadium on Wednesday from Gills head coach Ady Pennock.

The group were invited to visit the stadium in lieu of the sessions they’ve been doing with the Gillingham FC Community Trust. Coach Nicola Gardner has been visiting Pembroke House in Gillingham since October 2016, running fun and easy football-based activity sessions to keep the residents active and mobile, and to provide an important socialising opportunity. 

Residents and staff from Pembroke House were initially welcomed to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium by two members of the Gillingham FC Girls Academy, Emma and Annie, who took the group on a tour of the facilities, giving them plenty of facts and stats as they looked around the ground. The group also enjoyed meeting the full Girls Academy squad, and got to know more about our under-18s team.

For some members of the group it was their first experience of seeing the stadium, while for others it brought back memories of previous visits.  Newest activity club member Nell is a fan who first watched the Gills in 1952, while former referee Frank had officiated at the ground a number of times in the past. 

The group then had a lucky surprise when they met the club's head coach who personally showed them around the players’ changing rooms.  He then invited the group to his office for a cup of tea and a chat!  The residents enjoyed the hospitality, and the group shared stories of their backgrounds and football memories, even setting an impromptu football quiz for the head coach.

“The visit was a fantastic success, and really made the residents’ day," said Gardner. "It was a pleasure to welcome them; they got pictures and autographs, and to meet Adrian was a wonderful, unexpected surprise! They’ve been talking about coming for weeks, and I think this will be a day they never forget.” 

Eighty-four-year old guest Frank added: “I’ve never been entertained like this in my life!”

Thank you to the residents and staff of Pembroke House for visiting the stadium, and we look forward to doing more with the group in the future!

Find out more about the Gillingham FC Community Trust’s work here or on Twitter @GillsCommunity

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