A Washington man who raised thousands of pounds for a sporting legend’s cancer charity before his death is to be remembered at a football match in his honour on Wednesday.
Brave Johnny Bliss died at the age of 58 in 2009 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Johnny Bliss was one of the most courageous men I have ever knownSir Bobby Robson
He developed a friendship with former England manager Sir Bobby Robson during his battle, and raised £14,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
All of the proceeds from Wednesday’s match will go to the foundation, which is a cancer research charity based in Newcastle.
Son Wes Bliss said: “When he got cancer, my dad arranged a charity match, and we kept it going after he died.
“Early after diagnosis, he got in touch with Sir Bobby Robson, and they got to know each other quite well.
“He raised a lot of money for the foundation before he passed away, and then Sir Bobby said some very nice things about him after his death.
“These charity matches mean we can continue to raise money for the foundation in my dad’s memory.
“We’d like to say a special thanks to Dyke House Sports and Technology College, who have kindly allowed us to have free use of their pitch for the last three years.”
Mr Bliss worked as a showman, and the charity match will kick-off at 4pm at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, in Hartlepool.
It will be the third year the game has been played in the name of charity.
Following his death, Sir Bobby Robson paid tribute to the bravery of Mr Bliss.
He said: “Johnny Bliss was one of the most courageous men I have ever known.
“He fought this disease with every ounce of his being, for many months after they thought he would have lost the fight, and yet he still found the energy to help others.
“For Johnny to spend time helping my charity, after being given such a short time to live, was just incredible.
“My wife Elsie and I are proud to have known him and our heartfelt thanks go out to his wonderful wife Sheila and his family.
“They have lost a very special, a very dignified and a very genuine man from their lives.”