A couple well known to many in Haverhill are putting on a celebrity football match to help them raise £30,000 so that their son can have a life-changing operation.
Steve and Clare Leys live in Saffron Walden, but Steve has had two spells playing for Haverhill Borough FC and Clare used to manage the Haverhill branch of New Look.
Steve, a sales rep for a flooring company, also has many customers in town.
Their eldest son Ronnie, three, has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, after suffering complications during birth.
Ronnie’s condition means his inward-turning right leg stops him walking without tripping or falling, and the operation will enable him to walk independently, just like his little brother Frankie, who is almost two, can.
Steve, 30 and Clare, 25, have to raise the £30,000 for the operation themselves, most likely to be done at the Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital, because it is not available on the NHS.
The operation, called selective dorsal rhizotomy, will cost £22,000 with the remaining funds needed to pay for the after-care at hospital, daily physiotherapy sessions and accommodation.
The charity football match is at Bishop’s Stortford FC on Saturday, May 5, with Ronnie’s ‘Run, Ronnie, Run Celebrity XI’ playing Saffron Walden Town FC Legends.
Since the fund-raising began a few weeks ago, said Steve, the response has been ‘mind blowing.’
He added: “It’s gone mad, it really has and this football match is the first real event we are doing and we’ve not even done it yet and we’ve got over £15,000 sitting there already.”
So far a number of celebrities have confirmed they will play in the match, including actor Ralf Little, George Gilbey (Gogglebox and Celebrity Big Brother), Che Chesterman (X Factor finalist), Mike Hassini from the Only Way is Essex and former professional footballers Luke Chadwick, Kevin Horlock and Kevin Lisbie.
As well as playing in the match Che will be singing Beyonce and Naughty Boy’s Runnin’, which has been chosen as Ronnie’s campaign song, as the players walk out.
Entry to the match is £5, but free for the under-fives and there is a raffle at half time, with prizes received from many celebrities, including ex-pro footballers Bobby Zamora and Neil Ruddock and former England cricketer, Monty Panesar.
After the match there will be a charity auction, a magic show and a disco.
Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/just4children/runronnierun or by texting FITE67 and any amount to 70070.