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Christmas comes early for Fife Flyers ice hockey fan, Archie

We may still be 8 sleeps away from the 25th, but Christmas has come early for Fife Flyers fan, Archie Anderson, a 9-year-old from Edinburgh.

As part of the Kirkcaldy-based ice hockey team's longstanding relationship with CHAS, Archie went behind the scenes to meet the players who gave him signed memorabilia for Christmas.

Along with his dad, Walter, Archie was invited to watch the Flyers train at Fife Ice Arena and was also involved in matchday proceedings, dropping the puck and awarding the man of the match award.

Archie first got into ice hockey last year when Fife Flyers players visited Rachel House hospice in Kinross where Archie's sister, Eilidh, was receiving palliative care from CHAS. Anne Mather, a nursing support worker at CHAS also works with Fife Flyers and took Archie to his first game.

Walter Anderson said: "About a year and a half ago, Eilidh got her diagnosis - she had a really rare condition called Joubert syndrome. She was referred to Rachel House and CHAS.

"On a visit to Rachel House, we spoke to Anne and she had asked us if we'd ever been to the ice hockey and we got the opportunity to come down to the ice rink. The players came up to Rachel House last year and that kind of cemented the relationship.

"That's when Eilidh was still with us and we've been back several times since then.

"Eilidh passed away in April. Archie's still part of the sibling group at Rachel House, so the care and support CHAS provides is ongoing.

"Rachel House itself is like having a really big hug wrapped around you. Archie described it as 'the best hotel in the world'.

"They're very person-centred and give just incredible wrap-around support. They cover all your needs but in a lovely setting that's relaxing and gives respite for us.

"The charity work that goes on behind the scenes, like the tie-in with Fife Flyers and the fundraising, that's what makes it happen.

"You often feel alone in this journey, but we found out that we weren't."

Anne Mather added: "Fife Flyers have supported CHAS for more than 20 years, and continue to fundraise, visit the families at Rachel House and provide unique experiences like Archie's.

"The team invites families to games, but often some of the children CHAS looks after aren't well enough to make it. As well as the children in our care and their parents, CHAS provides crucial support for siblings and providing experiences like going to a hockey game with mum or dad can mean the world to children and parents alike.

"CHAS is a local charity and the team likes to give something back. The players love visiting the kids and bringing some Christmas cheer. They've been loving meeting Archie - they remembered him from their visit to Rachel House last year. There were fist-bumps all round when they were coming off the ice which was great to see.

"We're working with children with life-limiting conditions and for some, this could be their last Christmas, so it's important to make special memories for families as best we can. Fife Flyers' partnership with CHAS is so important and we're glad to have their support."

CHAS is appealing for donations in the run up to and including the festive season to help all children with life shortening illnesses and their families to create special Christmas memories that will last a lifetime.

Fife Flyers are hosting their annual CHAS fundraising night at their game against the Belfast Giants on 22 December. The team will be wearing specially designed Christmas jerseys which will be auctioned off after the game. Fans can also contribute though a raffle, bucket donation and tombola, all to raise money for CHAS.

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