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Footballing friends’ charity match for loved one Paul


May 9, 2017

FOOTBALLING friends are to shine a light on the work of two leading charities with a memorial match to remember.

A team of Black Cat fans will take on a side of ‘Magpies’ in a truly friendly North-East derby to be staged at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, in memory of Paul Warris.

The 52-year-old, of Washington, died in March after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, leaving wife Alison and children Michael, 24, Daniel 22, Aimee 14 and Paul’s son Philip, 31.

His life-long friend, firefighter Nev Harris, is now organising a charity 11-a-side match of friends and family to raise awareness about the condition and much-needed funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, Ryhope, and The Brain Tumour Charity.

The NUFC Fans Xl and SAFC Fans Xl teams will take to the pitch at the Stadium of Light on Saturday June 3. The gates open at 11.45am for a 12.30pm kick-off.

“It is going to be an amazing experience, emotional, definitely, but something we will never forget,” said Nev.

“Normally when you hire the pitch you end up playing strangers but this time it will be two teams of friends and family playing to raise money for two great causes.”

Paul collapsed last year while working at Nissan. A scan revealed a brain tumour which was partially removed and a biopsy showed it to be a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that is difficult to treat successfully with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

When his condition worsened he was taken to St Benedict’s Hospice, Ryhope, a renowned specialist centre for palliative care, where he passed away on March 17.

Nev said: “I went to school with Paul from the age of 11 and became best friends from then. We used to play football and he was a keen Newcastle United fan.

“We just felt we needed to do something in his memory, that football would be the perfect choice and this would help fund research and aid the hospice which cared for him so well.”

The memorial match will have added poignancy as Paul’s brother-in-law Kenny Watson also died suddenly earlier this month. His wife Shell will be there on the day and son Josh hopes to play in the football match along with Paul’s son Dan, while Aimee plans to be match mascot.

Nev’s two sons, David, 22, and Matthew, 18, are also in the teams as are Paul’s other brothers-in-law, Steven and Dean Natton.

“It is going to be such a family affair, joined by close friends, and we are hoping to raise as much money as we possibly can while remembering Paul and Kenny in a way I know they would have loved,” said Nev.

“I must also say a special thanks to SAFC for having us that day and Mark Carruthers from the Football Matters TV Programme on the Tyne and Wear channel, who has played a big part in making this day even more memorable. He has secured ex-Sunderland and Newcastle players to manage the two teams. Ex-Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade and ex-Newcastle player Olivier Bernard will manage the NUFC Fans Xl team and ex-Sunderland players John Cornforth and Julio Arca will manage the SAFC Fans Xl team.”

St Benedict’s Hospice fundraising manager Catrina Flynn said: “It really is going to be a very special and moving occasion which seems to be the prefect way to honour Paul’s memory and raise valuable funds for us and the Brain Tumour Charity.”

Geraldine Pipping, The Brain Tumour Charity’s director of fundraising, said: “We are immensely grateful to Paul’s family and friends for raising awareness and funds in the face of their own loss.

“We receive no government funding and rely 100% on voluntary donations, so it’s only through the efforts of Paul’s family and friends and others like them that we can work towards our twin goals of doubling survival and halving the harm caused by brain tumours.

“Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and people under 40 in the UK and survival rates have not improved significantly over the last 40 years. We need to change that.”

*Fans will need a wristband in advance in order to enter the stadium. They can be sought from Nev Harris by emailing nevharris64@googlemail.com

The donation page is reached via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/paulwarristrophy

By Emily