Sunderland AFC is one of more than 40 businesses and organisations backing Great North Snowdogs, a tourist trail of individually decorated sculptures, which opens to the public on 19 September.

The trail – inspired by the Raymond Briggs story The Snowman™ and The Snowdog – hopes to raise money and awareness of St Oswald’s Hospice’s Children and Young Adults Service.

The Newcastle-based service provides short breaks for children and young adults with progressive, life-shortening conditions.

And members of the club’s SAFC Ladies team made a special visit, for a tour of the facilities and to meet some of the youngsters and their families.

The Hospice is the only one in the region providing medical support on site to children and young adults and its specialist staff includes registered nurses, nursery nurses, social care lead, care support workers, physiotherapist, a chaplain and music therapist.

It also provides support to the whole family, with family guestrooms above the Children and Adults Unit for families to use while visiting.

Tori Williams, vice-captain of the team, which is currently in its second season in the top division FA Women’s Super League One, said “This is the first time that we have visited a hospice and it was a very humbling experience. 

“The children were all very positive and it was a great pleasure for us to be able to go along and visit.”

During their visit, SAFC Ladies also got the chance to meet one of the 59 1.5m high Snowdogs taking part in the trail.

Designed by illustrations artist, Jina Gelder, it has a wildlife theme to represent the wildlife garden the children are currently creating at the Hospice.

Diane Nicholson, Team Leader and Nurse at St Oswald’s Hospice, said: “Having players from Sunderland AFC’s ladies team made the children and young adults’ afternoon.

“It was lovely to see the players greeting and interacting with the children. We are truly grateful to them for taking the time out of their busy schedule to come along to meet some of their young fans.”

The main Snowdog trail will follow the route of the Tyne and Wear Metro and will be accompanied by a complementary trail of 97 mini Snowdogs, decorated by school children and community groups from the area.

And, when the trail closes to the public in November, the large Snowdogs will be auctioned to raise funds for the hospice’s children’s service.

For further information, visit www.greatnorthsnowdogs.co.uk or call 0191 285 0063.