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Young Wrexham football star Lili lights up care home for Christmas

Wrexham AFC player Lili Jones pictured with Santa, Maureen O’Neill, Jessie Rees , Deputy Manager patsy Swift and Joan Oley. Picture Mandy Jones

Wrexham football heroine Lili Jones has secured a host of new fans after switching on the annual Christmas lights show at a care home.

Lili, 18, was delighted to  officially launch the festive season celebrations at Pendine Park’s Hillbury House care home in Wrexham.

The top midfielder helped last year’s Wrexham AFC women’s team win promotion to the Genero Adran Premier league.

But she said she was more nervous about turning on the yule tide illuminations than she’d ever been playing before huge crowds at Wrexham’s famous STōK Cae Ras.

She laughed: “I just didn’t want to break anything. I’ve never switched on Christmas lights before and with all the residents there waiting in anticipation I just didnt want anything to go wrong.”

Just like on the football pitch, though, Lili proved she had the magic touch illuminating the Hillbury House gardens at the press of a button.

Following a countdown of five, four, three, two, one she activated the switch right on time to a rousing cheer.

She said: “It was great to see all the residents’ faces light up too, smiling and having such a good time.”

Thanking Lili for being their star guest on the night, Hillbury House manager Cindy Clutton, said everyone at the home has followed the incredible story of how Wrexham AFC was bought by Hollywood TV and movie legends Rob McElhenney  and Ryan Reynolds with both the men’s and the women’s teams going on to win promotion at the end of the 2022-23 season.

Cindy added: “We’re all so proud of what has been achieved at Wrexham recently. We’ve especially followed the fortunes of the women’s team as our maintenance operative here at Hillbury, Dave Williams, is a Wrexham AFC women’s goalkeeping coach.”

She said it was thanks to Dave that they were able to contact the club and invite Lili to switch on the lights.

Part of the illuminated garden display included a wooden reindeer and sleigh, and a smiling model snowman which Dave made with the help of residents.

Six feet four inches tall dad of two, Dave, of Acton, loves his job at Hillbury and has made some great friends among its residents and staff.

He praised Lili for agreeing to switch on the lights adding: “She is a great sport as well as a brilliant football player. Like many others at the club, she never shies away from helping the local community.”

Lili is Wrexham through and through, having been a lifelong supporter of the club. She started playing for them via the Girls’ Performance Centre and made her Wrexham AFC debut aged 16 in September 2021, scoring twice.

Carol Wojdyta, whose mum Jessie Rees is a resident of Hillbury House, was thrilled to see Lili turn on the Christmas lights and attended the occasion along with her husband, Walter.

She said: “I just had to ask Lili if I could shake her hand. She is such a good player, as are all the Wrexham women. Wally and I are season ticket holders and try to see as many games as we can.

“We managed to get to see the women not so long ago and they were simply outstanding. We are so delighted that the club is on the up after all these years.”

Wally added: “A lot of the elderly residents at Hillbury have supported Wrexham since their youth so they will really appreciate Lili coming to do this for them here today. I must also say a big thank you to the staff for organising this lovely evening and for all they do to keep our loved ones safe and comfortable.”

Festive lights also adorned the gardens outside Pendine’s Gwern Alyn  care home which is next door. A giant Christmas tree was lit up in the patio with fairy lights adorning the nearby shrubs and hedgerows.