For the last 22 years, the Fife Flyers and their supporters have raised funds for a charity close to their hearts – and home.
Working together, the players, coaches and fans have managed to amass almost £60,000 for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).
The team decided to support CHAS when Rachel House was first opened in Kinross by the Princess Royal in March 1996.
Their partnership has only grown stronger through the years, with players regularly paying visits to children at the hospice.
And their Christmas visit has become a festive tradition that the players, children and staff all wholeheartedly enjoy.
That tradition continued last week when Scott Aarssen, Rick Pinkston and Paul Crowder paid a visit to Rachel House for a fun Christmas singalong.
Eight-year-old Flyers fan Archie Anderson was chuffed to meet the players and received his first ice hockey puck as a present.
And he can’t wait to see them in action – he’s off to his first Flyers game in January.
Donna Nicoll, activities facilitator at Rachel House, said: “It has become a real tradition for us every December – the Flyers’ players are always so generous with their time and flexible with whatever the children want to do.
“They rehearsed and played Jingle Bells, gave out gifts and listened to songs the kids had come up with themselves.
“And they were almost roped into a singalong of The Greatest Showman ... but had a lucky escape!
“The fact they’ll just stick their Christmas baffies on, put their feet up next to our fire and chat away is just brilliant.
“We’re extremely grateful for all their fundraising efforts over the years, as well as bringing our families along to see the matches.
“Archie especially can’t wait to see them play at the start of next year.”
Since adopting CHAS in 1996, the Flyers have held fundraisers every year to raise vital funds to help the hospices meet their ever-increasing running costs.
Pam Clark, from the club, said: “We made our first donation in November 1996 and are delighted to say that, in the 22 years since, we have helped raise nearly £60,000.
“The team and fans have held many types of fundraisers in honour of the children, from raffles and bake sales to sponsored walks, auctions and our ever-popular karaoke.
“We are delighted to have kept our association going for so long.
“Many notable players have been involved in the annual visits to Rachel House over the years.
“And every single one of them has commented on what a privilege it is to share some precious time with these amazing children and help raise awareness for such a worthwhile cause.”
Todd Dutiaume, a former Flyers player and now head coach, is among those who have visited the hospice and said the players get as much out of it as the children.
“This is my 20th season with the Flyers and we’ve been associated with CHAS all that time,” he said.
“Our former coach Mark Morrison was a regular visitor to the hospice and I tagged along with him.
“It was a privilege for me to visit the hospice and meet the children. I know that’s how other players feel too.
“It certainly makes you think about your priorities – there are far more important things in life than a game of ice hockey.
“It’s a humbling and rewarding experience for the players, many of whom are family men themselves.
“For others, who are many miles away from their own families, the warmth of the welcome they receive helps make them feel at home.
“The guys always come back from Rachel House with a big smile on their faces.”
Todd also praised the Flyers’ fans who have always rallied to support the club’s adopted charity.
He added: “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters.
“Every time we ask them to do anything in aid of CHAS, they dig deep into their pockets and many also organise their own events for the charity.
“It gives me a tremendous sense of pride to see how much the community supports this great cause.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported CHAS in the last 22 years.”
During their recent visit, the Flyers helped launch the charity’s Festive Footwear event, which will be held this Friday (December 14).
Pam added: “We hope fans will take part. If wrapping tinsel round the players ice skates wasn’t a hazard, they would do it too!”
So slip into your festive slippers or show off your sparkly shoes this Friday – and donate £2 to help CHAS continue its amazing work.
Sign up at the website www.chas.org.uk/events/festive-footwear-friday-2018.