Being ill in hospital is no fun at the best of times, let alone at Christmas. So, the Gloucester Rugby first team squad have helped to spread some Festive cheer at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
John Brain, the club's Rugby Operations Manager, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on May 27th 2012.
John was a true Gloucester Rugby stalwart who represented his home town club with distinction for the vast majority of his rugby playing career.
He went on to make nearly 300 appearances for the club before spending a couple of seasons at Bedford at the end of his career.
His playing career, of course, predated the professional era. Having studied law at Bristol Polytechnic, John combined his playing career with a career at Gloucester Council Trading Standards.
Living on Sandhurst Road and working on Denmark Road, Gloucester Rugby and Kingsholm were never far away.
He returned to Kingsholm to serve as an Assistant Coach to Philippe Saint-Andre before he took the plunge to move into rugby on a full time basis although it wasn't with Gloucester.
Recently, Managing Director Ken Nottage confessed that the club were set to offer him a Director of Rugby role, but the Worcester Warriors were quicker off the mark.
Cecil Duckworth came calling and 'sold' Worcester's ambition to John who duly took over the coaching helm at Sixways. And Duckworth's choice proved to be inspired as Worcester were promoted to the Guinness Premiership for the first time in their history.
John continued to play a key role in establishing the Warriors as a Premiership club before heading down the M5 to join Bristol Rugby as Forwards Coach. He returned to Gloucester Rugby in a scouting capacity in December 2010 before taking on the role of Rugby Operations Manager for the 2011-12 season.
His rugby nous allowed him to assume responsibility for player scouting as well as applying his not inconsiderable knowledge of the scrum to training sessions.
Ryan Walkinshaw paid tribute to John shortly after the tragic news broke:
"When Ken (Nottage) told me the news I could barely believe what I was hearing. We are all incredibly saddened by his passing, and it is far too young an age to pass away. It's been a massive shock.
"John was a true legend of the Gloucester club, not just for his outstanding time as a player, but also for his two stints at coaching the club. He was a very switched-on character, he loved the club and cared deeply about it."
The Gloucester Citizen signed off their tribute to John with the following quote which says so much about the man:
'As a player Brain would sling his kitbag over his shoulder, and walk among the fans up to Kingsholm. Door to door, that stroll took ten minutes - and when Brain returned in 2010 his matchday journey was exactly the same. The mind of the man had matured but the soul remained unchanged, and if it had colour, no doubt it would have been Cherry and White.'