To mark the end of #iwill week and to place on record the outstanding achievements of a very special young man, we bring you a story that will send your emotions on a little rollercoaster of a journey.
Leading the team out against Hull City this weekend is Corrie Brown. Corrie is 13 and attends Freebrough Academy in Brotton, just as his best friend Jayden would have done had he not lost his battle with Leukaemia earlier this year.
Annaleigh Wynn was the coordinator of our #iwill programme at the time and takes up the story.
“We ran a project called Social Mix, which is funded by the EFL, which is also part of the #iwill programme which is social action based.
“Corrie came on the programme we were delivering in Freeborough, but when it came to the residential part of the course he had to withdraw after he lost his best friend. It was Jayden’s funeral on the morning we were due to depart for the residential.
“He had to take a little time off school, he was really struggling to cope with Jayden’s death, but we got a call to say he would like to come back on our programme. He was really quiet at first, but when it came to the social action part, volunteering and fund-raising, we immediately got a hook. He wanted to do something in memory of Jayden.”
What Corrie did was lead a group of 15 young people to organise and take part in a memorial football tournament which included 22 teams at the Herlingshaw Centre.
“Just to see him transform from the young man who had to withdraw from the programme to what he had become, this young man who had organised everything and raised £850 in one go for the CLIC Sargent charity, was amazing.”
That fundraising has continued. He’s doing sponsored walks and plans events on his own.
“For us it wasn’t about the money,” says Annaleigh. “More importantly, it was to give him a coping mechanism that might help with overcoming his friend’s death.”
Jayden (10), and Corrie had been neighbours for a long time and during his battle with Leukaemia, Jayden’s attendance at Handale Primary suffered, particularly in the last year where he was bedbound for long periods and Corrie was by his side all the way.
Jonathan Woodgate heard Corrie’s story and wrote a letter praising him and inviting him to be mascot for today’s game. The letter was hand delivered to Corrie at school on World Kindness Day.
The Football Club and us at the Foundation wanted to reward Corrie, recognise his journey, to celebrate his commitment and to help everyone remember Jayden. So last week two trophies were handed over, one each at Handale Primary in Loftus, the other at Freebrough.
Jayden was due to join Freeborough but passed away in the spring. The students and the schools were keen to honour his place there, so there are now two trophies named in his honour, the Jayden Lindsey Memorial Trophy, which each of the schools will use to recognise outstanding achievement. Whether that is overcoming adversity or some other form of achievement or effort. A student who shows the same battling qualities Jayden had to show when battling Leukaemia.