His feet may belong to Cardiff City, but footballer Will Vaulks’ heart will always belong to the South Yorkshire children’s hospice he has volunteered with for the last three years.

The talented midfielder, who was plucked from Rotherham United this spring to play with the EFL Championship club, has vowed to continue his support for Bluebell Wood.

Said Will: “I was very sad to leave the Millers and my life in Rotherham. But my move to Cardiff is a massively life-changing opportunity for me.

“I am determined to keep supporting the children’s hospice any way I can, though. Bluebell Wood will always be in my heart.”

As Cardiff is 200 miles away, it’s impossible for Will to do his one-day a week stint with the community fundraising team. But he is maintaining his role as a hospice ambassador, and plans to keep the bonds he has developed with a number of hospice families.

“I felt like part of the team at the hospice and am determined to keep in touch with some really special people I met, in particularly two youngsters whose brothers and sisters receive hospice care,” said Will, recently returned from an intensive 10-day training stint in the USA and Canada.

Will became a hospice volunteer in 2016 after spotting an appeal on Twitter. He had already visited the North Anston facility with Rotherham United team mates and had been amazed to find an atmosphere full of laughter and happiness.

He explained: “My mum volunteered for Home-Start when I was growing up, so I knew how worthwhile it is. I was aware I had quite a bit of time on my hands being footballer and after visiting the hospice, I knew it was a place I wanted to give my time to.”

His hospice days were spent doing everything from playing with the children to administration work and attending events. Well-aware that Bluebell Wood needs to find £11,000 a day to operate, he went under lock and key in a mock prison for a sponsored ‘Jail and Bail’, which raised over £10,000.

His dedication and commitment saw him win the prestigious PFA Player in the Community title in this year’s EFL Awards, after being nominated by his club.

Said Will: “The award meant a lot, but mainly I wanted that limelight to go to Bluebell Wood. What I have given to it is nothing in comparison to what it gives to families going through very difficult times.

“I gained so much from the hospice, too. My life at Bluebell Wood could not have been more different to my life in football. It is so competitive and you think the end of the world is not being in the team on a Saturday.

“Then you go into the hospice and see what other people are going through. You meet children who battle life-threatening illnesses every day and parents facing bereavement with such dignity; it puts life into perspective.”

Will, who became a hospice ambassador in 2018, is heavily involved in the Hospice Auction of Promises evening at Rotherham’s New York Stadium on November 7.

“I have a few special items and personal pledges lined up for the bidders,” promised the 25-year-old.

Madeleine Oldale, Head of Communications at Bluebell Wood commented: “We wish Will every success as his footballing career ascends and I know many of our staff and families will be following his progress.

“The fact that he is determined to continue to support us speaks volumes about what an exceptional young man he is off the pitch, too. “We are so grateful to him for the time and energy he has given us, and for being such a brilliant role model for our children and young people. We are looking forward to working with Will in the future.”