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Football club continues to keep its doors open to the NHS

Posted: 18 May 2020

Picture of the logos of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS trust and Watford FC

More than 40,000 free meals will have been dished up by the time staff and volunteers at Watford Football Club stop serving breakfast and lunch to their neighbours at Watford General Hospital.

And whilst the hot food service ends on May 29, the club’s doors remain open for NHS staff who want to take a break and enjoy a change of scene.

Massage chairs, snacks and drinks will continue for the next few months in the large seated area, overlooking the pitch - which was renamed ‘The Sanctuary’ when it opened to the NHS on April 17.

Counselling sessions will still be provided in private rooms, allowing staff to be in a calm space away from the hospital whilst in easy walking distance.

And it’s not just hospital staff who are making use of the new facilities. On May 1, the maternity service began running newborn hearing screening and antenatal clinics from the club following the loss of their usual community settings at GP surgeries. These services will continue at WFC until the end of August.

WFC chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury said: “It is a privilege to support the hospital. I am so proud of our staff and our volunteers for making this work. Their compassion and desire to help was humbling and shows that the true values of this club are very much alive.

“The speed with which our team made things happen was impressive but what they achieved is far more than just a smooth logistical operation – it is kindness in action.”

He explained the reason for the forthcoming change: “Our thoughts are now turning to supporting our first team players at the training ground and so we need to direct our resource there. In addition, many of our volunteers were furloughed from their jobs and are now returning to work.”

He added: “The hospital know they can rely on us. We are there for them in the same way that they are there for all of us. Opening our doors in such a big way has really built on our relationship and sparked thoughts as to how this partnership could have positive long-term impact."

Christine Allen, chief executive of West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust which manages Watford General Hospital said: “It’s hard to put into words the difference this has made to our staff.

“Having this amazing facility on our doorstep has been such a boost and the fact that the club made it happen when we needed it most is a testament to them.

“It has been great to see staff able to relax and to rest. Hundreds, if not thousands of them will remember this kindness for the rest of their lives.”

She added: “We are now able to manage our meetings without needing to relocate to the club and we are creating our own memorial spaces on our sites. We also have alternative arrangements for overnight accommodation for staff who need it. And our on-site restaurant is gearing up to welcome staff back.

“As we enter our recovery phase, we need to find a ‘new normal’ and let the club get back to its business, which is football. When they open their doors to supporters, I suspect they might have a few more cheering them on!”



  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: email:, For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust sees around 600,000 patients a year and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
  3. For more information about our hospitals, visit You can also join our followers on Twitter ( and find us on Facebook (