MORE than £1,000 was raised when a charity football match kicked off in honour of a brave schoolboy.
Jack Wilkinson, five, spent more than a month in hospital last year battling a rare illness.
The youngster became ill on June 16, and was diagnosed with atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS) – a genetic condition which causes uncontrolled activation of the body’s immune system – and is a one in a million condition in under-fives.
Now, his parents Martin Wilkinson and Keren Burdett, of Sidney Street, Boldon Colliery, are hoping to help others with the condition.
They organised a charity football match, at Filtrona Park, South Shields, on Saturday, and raised £1,300 for AHUSUK, a support group for patients and their families.
Martin, 35, and his old team, Whitburn FC, reunited to take on the Sunday league team from the Grey Hen, in Temple Park Road.
Jack loved walking out onto the pitch with us and going through the warm up – he was the star of the show.Martin Wilkinson
Jack, who was recently nominated for Child of Courage in the Best of South Tyneside Awards, was the mascot for his dad’s team and spurred them on during their warm-up and the game.
Martin said: “It was a brilliant day. We had a good turnout and Jack’s friends and family came along to cheer us all on.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough, all the players, supporters, sponsors and local businesses that got involved and gave up their time to help out.
“I have to say a massive thank you to Lee Robinson, who helped me organise the match and our striker, Michael Kirkley, who stepped in at the last minute but got businesses to sponsor him to score in the game. He scored a penalty and got us £130.
“We lost the game 3-1 unfortunately, but the other team switched the full squad at half time and we only had two subs, so I don’t think we did too bad for a 30-plus team.
“We’ve decided we’re going to train for next year though and hopefully win it.”
Characters from one of West Boldon Primary School pupil Jack’s favourite movies, Star Wars, including Chewbacca and Princess Leia, also attended the match to show their support.
Martin said: “It was fantastic that they came along. Jack loves Star Wars and he was very excited to see them.
“They gave their time for free and they all loved Jack and said they’d love to help out with any other events we’re doing in the future.
“Jack loved walking out onto the pitch with us and going through the warm-up – he was the star of the show.
“He’s still having his regular treatment but he’s doing really well and we’re so pleased with how much we managed to raise for the charity.”