A 12-year-old Luton schoolboy given a shock diagnosis of cancer earlier this year was delighted to receive a free pair of football boots from his favourite Hatters player.
Alfie Sharp was given the boots by Luton Town midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe along with a signed autograph and a video message,wishing him well.
Tunnicliffe was moved to help after hearing the huge Hatters fan was diagnosed with leukaemia in May 2019 just days before his twelfth birthday.
Due to Alfie’s intense treatment, Alfie and mum Paula have been in and out of Addenbrooke's Hospital and Luton and Dunstable Hospital from May till September where he was receiving treatment. The keen football fan even had to start chemotherapy on his birthday and spent the day in hospital.
Paula said: “Within two seconds of hearing the news, my world completely turned upside down – I kept thinking I can’t believe this is happening. We had to take him to Addenbrooke’s Hospital straight away and he had his twelfth birthday a few days later.
“It turned from him being such a fit, healthy boy doing normal things to within a few days not being able to leave bed. It just happened so fast, for the first few weeks, it was like being in a bubble not knowing what was going on and watching from the outside.”
Alfie underwent five months of chemotherapy treatment and suffered from many side effects including muscle wastage in his legs which has meant he uses a wheelchair. Alfie will continue to have treatment for three and a half years.
The gifts and messages gave Alfie a much-needed boost
Paula said: “Ryan’s video message was a really nice gesture, he was really pleased. Alfie shares a Luton FC season ticket with his sister and they take it in turns each week to go to matches.”
During this difficult time, Alfie’s family were supported by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, who provide practical, emotional and financial support.
Now the family are calling on Hatters fans to dig deep and support the charity who are partnered up with Luton Town FC. In August 2019, CLIC Sargent was voted as Luton FC’s Supporters' Charity of the year for 2019-20 and they are hosting several fundraisers throughout the year.
“CLIC Sargent were there for us from the beginning. They gave us plenty of information, they also gave us books to read with Alfie to explain his leukaemia and a book for his sister to explain what’s happening to her brother.
“We were given financial grants to help us when we had a long stay up at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It was little things that helped – tissues, teabags, a teddy bear. I can’t say enough good things about them.
“I’d say if anyone has any spare money please donate to CLIC Sargent, because we know how much they did for us and how much they really do help families like ours.”
CLIC Sargent’s team in Bedfordshire work out of ULCH and Addenbrooke’s Hospital to support Bedfordshire families who are being treated at other hospitals including Bedford, Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
Last year, CLIC Sargent supported 66 children and young people from Bedfordshire and registered 36 new cases.
They also gave 67 grants to families in Bedfordshire totalling £13,950 helping them to cope with the financial impact of cancer as many parents give up work to be with their child.
Karen Olden, regional fundraising manager, said: “I want to thank Ryan, Luton FC and all the Hatters fans for their generosity and support.
"The partnership between Luton FC and CLIC Sargent is so important because every penny raised will help us to be there for families like Alfie’s right from when the doctor says it’s cancer.”