DCSIMG

Cup final dream comes true for seriously ill Sunderland children

(l to r) Charlie Spedding, Barrie Wells, Steve Cram and Ken Bremner with youngsters Ross Jackson, Jake Liddle, Ben Bewick, Rebecca Burnett and Jack Munneke.

(l to r) Charlie Spedding, Barrie Wells, Steve Cram and Ken Bremner with youngsters Ross Jackson, Jake Liddle, Ben Bewick, Rebecca Burnett and Jack Munneke.

SMILES as wide as can be, these deserving youngsters will take in Sunderland’s Capital One Cup final showdown from the comfort of an executive box at Wembley.

The children, who have been getting treatment at the city’s Royal Hospital, have being given tickets to the game courtesy of philanthropist Barrie Wells and his Box 4 Kids campaign.

The scheme, launched in 2010, sees disabled or seriously ill children given the chance to experience top sporting events as a VIP.

All five youngsters – plus a parent – will leave the Stadium of Light on Sunday morning bound for London and are being chaperoned by former world champion runner Steve Cram and Olympic bronze medallist Charlie Spedding.

Rebecca Burnett, 17, is one of the Black Cats fans who has been chosen for the trip and said she was “shocked” on finding out that she’ll be among the tens of thousands of SAFC supporters hoping to roar their team to victory.

“It’s an amazing opportunity but for us even to get to the final in the first place is unbelievable,” said Rebecca, of Hylton Lane, who has been battling an eating disorder for the past three years at the royal.

“We can beat them, even though it’s going to be hard, but the atmosphere will be incredible on the day.”

Eight-year-old Ben Bewick, who is diabetic, also has his ticket for the game.

“We don’t have season tickets so I bring Ben when I can,” said his dad Gavin, 40, of Hill View.

“I’d given up on getting a final ticket so when we got told he had been chosen, it felt incredible.

“He’s been to the last couple of home games when we’ve beaten Man City, so hopefully he’ll prove to be a lucky charm.”

SAFC have also given every child their own personalised Black Cats shirt to wear on the day, as well as cup final scarves for their parents.

Barrie, whose Wells Sports Foundation has arranged the trip, said: “We do this for kids all over the country and it’s all about giving them the VIP experience.

“You just have to look at their faces to see how excited they are for the game. They can’t wait.”

Ken Bremner, chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was very difficult to select the children, but they have all been chosen by their respective community nurse or the ward that they frequently attend for treatment.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am sure that they will have a fantastic time particularly if the result is hopefully a good one for Sunderland.”

 

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