Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Josh Harrop paid a surprise visit to Preston North End supporter Holly Illing at her home recently as part of our Whites Christmas campaign.
Holly’s friend Emma nominated her for a Whites Christmas surprise, after having to deal with multiple losses in her family over the last few years. Despite that, Holly has continued with her university studies, earning a first-class degree qualification, and provides support to other members of her family without hesitation.
After also pointing out Holly’s selflessness and kindness as a person, Emma decided to organise a special surprise for her friend with the help of PNE.
Although Holly knew her friend had a surprise in store for her, she did not know Emma had arranged for three North End players to greet her at her home!
“Holly is incredible," said Emma. "Unfortunately, she lost her dad a couple of years ago, which obviously is really tough. I don’t think I’d have got through it as well as she did. She went back and did her final year at uni and managed to come out with a first, which is just incredible.
“On top of that, after everything she’s been through, she’s always there for you and she’ll put you first even though she might have had a tough day. I really just wanted to nominate her because she just deserves it.”
On her emotions when answering the door, only to see three Lilywhites first teamers staring back at her, Holly added: “Words just weren’t in my mouth – they still aren’t, to be honest.
"I was definitely nervous for something, because she [Emma] was saying, ‘There’s something coming.’ She was looking out of the window and I said, ‘What’s going, what’s happening?’ Then I just opened up and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ I just couldn’t believe it – [it’s] the best surprise. I’m not good at surprises, so that was really good.
PNE defender Davies said: “We’ve come out with Ben and Josh to surprise Holly. Her friend Emma has set it up and it’s been lovely. She’s invited us in, had a nice chat with her and met her boyfriend as well, who seems like a lovely man.
“It’s nice to come out in the community and do nice things over Christmas time because it makes a big difference to fans, who obviously make a big difference to us as well.
“Holly has had a tough couple of years and just the speech that Emma gave about her was really heart-warming and we can understand why Emma’s decided to set this up for her [Holly] because she seems like a wonderful person.”