Friends of Sunderland fan Harvey McWilliams plan 15,000ft charity skydive following tragic death
Stephen Bridges is planning to jump out of a plane from 15,000ft in memory of Sunderland fan Harvey McWilliams.
McWilliams, a devoted Black Cats supporter, joined Exeter Royals FC after moving to Exeter to start university.
Sadly, Harvey passed away just days before Christmas. As a club, Exeter were devastated by his loss, with Harvey said to be always thinking of others before himself.
Craig Bridges, who is fundraising in memory of his friend, told The Echo: “To honour Harvey, we formed the Harvey McWilliams Memorial Fund in place to make sure that Harvey is never forgotten and to help other men in our local community struggling with their mental health.
“We reached out to football clubs, rugby clubs and Harvey's favourite bands and asked for donations of merchandise that we could auction to raise funds. The response from many clubs was amazing sending us signed shirts, footballs, stadium tours and many other items and this continues today.
“We have reached out to Andy's Man Club which supports men's mental health and next week we will be running free fun training sessions for their members and are widening our offer to include other men in our community who also need support. To enable access for all, we will have a "Boot Bin" meaning football boots can be borrowed and red and white training bibs branded For Harvey will also be available.
“This is only the start and something simple we can offer immediately, however, we are discussing other projects and ways in which we can support others.
“In addition to the auctions, my brother Steve who is the joint team manager with myself has committed to completing a skydive in August to raise awareness and to raise funds. One of our players is also entering the 15k Tough Mudder again to raise awareness.
“Harvey's parents, Michael and Kelly run Kelly's Smellies in Darlington and recently launched The Harvey McWilliams Collection and a proportion of each sale was donated to our cause.
“Sunderland fans have been incredible and we have been overwhelmed with their support and the lovely comments we receive on our Twitter and Facebook pages, often bringing a tear to our eyes.
“Many donated to a raffle we ran enabling us to hire a coach for the team to travel to Darlington for Harvey's funeral.
“As a club, Sunderland AFC have been very supportive of Harvey's family. We are changing our kit colours for the coming season and to honour Harvey, we will be wearing the red and white stripes in honour of his love of Sunderland Football Club.
“One of our players will also receive the first Harvey McWilliams Memorial Trophy at our Awards Evening next Saturday. If anyone reads this and feels as though they are not in a good place, there is help out there so please speak to your doctor, a support group, family or a friend.”
"Harvey was a very caring, generous young man always reaching out to others. We are devastated that he is no longer with us, but his legacy will live on as he remains firmly in our hearts.”