Host of football stars join fundraising team to raise funds for Owen

by Catriona Conway-Mortimer

Monday, April 16th, 2018

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Edinburgh PR success helps share story of football stars fundraising for Children's Hospital A HOST of footballing stars have joined together to raise over £10,000 in memory of a young footballer who tragically passed away aged just 11.

In October last year, Kennoway Soccer Sevens and the local Fife community were left stunned when 11-year-old Owen Nisbet was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma.

This rare form of cancer usually has high survival rates but sadly Owen passed away just five weeks after his diagnosis.

Thanks to support from Liverpool FC’s James Milner and clubs such as Hibs, Raith Rovers and East Fife, the local community were able to raise a staggering £10,200 which will go to the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC).

The charity supported Owen and his family throughout his illness and Kennoway Soccer Sevens coach, Rab Lindsay, was determined to raise funds for them.

Rab said: “When we first found out that Owen was ill, we started fundraising to give the family a much needed holiday.

“We got in touch with the Hibs team – who have always been a great support to us – through their Fife scout. They got to work straight away, organising a trip for the family.

“So, we turned our fundraising efforts towards arranging the end of season dance to double-up as a fundraising event for Owen and his family, to take some strain off them during this hard time.”

Owen died unexpectedly just weeks before the event took place.

Rab added: “We had no intention of stopping our fundraising efforts there. After hearing how ECHC had cared for Owen and his family, we turned our attention to raising money for the charity.

“Raith Rovers over 35s team, with the support of East Fife FC, helped us raise £3000 – they played us in a charity game at New Bayview with Paul McManus on their team.

“I’m proud to say that we won the game, with Owen’s dad David scoring the winning goal.

“Paul McManus even donated his Championship winning medal and Liverpool’s James Milner sent us a signed shirt to be auctioned.

“The football club led the fundraising activity, and it wasn’t long before everyone we knew started joining in.

“We wanted to give back to the charity that had looked after our wee Owen, and made him feel comfortable in his final days.

“Owen was the sort of kid that never let anything hold him back. He was a great wee footballer – a real rough and ready player with a great thirst for the game.

“His shirt was number 20 and that’s a strip that we’ll never use again – it’s reserved just for him. The lads all wear his name and number on their sleeves, too – he’s part of our kit now.”

Owen’s mother, Cheryl Walton, said: “ECHC just went over and above with the level of care they gave us.

“They took care of all the little things, allowing us to spend as much time with our son as possible.

“Even with what Owen was up against, he still managed to put a smile on everyone’s face and make the nurses laugh.

“He put others first with acts of kindness that will never be forgotten, like when he made up a goody bag for another child that was also receiving treatment.

“No one expected Owen to pass so suddenly so it was a huge shock to the system. What stood out to us more than anything else was just how emotionally supportive every single member of staff at ECHC were.”

Vicki Watson, Community Fundraiser at ECHC, said: “Kennoway Soccer Sevens fundraising was an incredibly strong community effort.

“Their amazing donation will help to change the experiences of children and young people in hospital and support their families at such a hard time.

“Owen’s parents want the money to be spent on spaces within the hospital that families can go to and relax and spend some time away from the wards.”

ECHC supports and complements the work of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and will be playing a key role in the new hospital.

The charity exists to transform the experiences of children and young people in hospital so they can be a child first and a patient second.

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Catriona Conway-Mortimer, account executive with Holyrood PR in Edinburgh, Scotland

Catriona Conway-Mortimer

Catriona Conway-Mortimer is part of the award-winning PR team at Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

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