It was a Christmas to remember for a courageous Isle teenager when he got to rub shoulders with one of the top names in football.
Jack Marshall, 16, of Green Lane in Belton, along with his 21-year-old sister Jaimie, were invited to visit the Old Trafford home ground of their favourite team, Manchester United, by former player and now assistant manager Ryan Giggs.
Jack, who suffers from Moebius Syndrome, which means he is unable to walk unassisted, has difficulty with hearing and is unable to smile, heard about the festive treat when he attended the Radio One Teen Award ceremony late last year, where he picked up the Stephen Sutton Award in recognition of his years of fundraising.
Jaimie explained that Jack had received a message from Ryan Giggs – the most decorated player in Welsh and English football history – at the Wembley event, saying he would post a gift to him or, even better they could meet up.
“We were given a complementary VIP package on Boxing Day with food and drinks at Old Trafford and we got to speak to Ryan for about ten minutes, just 45 minutes before the match, it was pretty amazing for us to be with him before the game.”
The day was made even more special when the pair got to see their team beat Newcastle United 3-1.
Jaimie added: “Ryan had asked us what the score would be and we predicted it to be 3-1!
“Jack absolutely loved it, he loves watching Man U on the TV.
“The atmosphere, and getting to go behind the scenes to see the officials’ room and the players’ tunnel, was amazing.
“We both really enjoyed it. It was a really special day. Jack said he was really grateful for the people who organised it. It was definitely the highlight of Christmas.”
Jack has defied all the odds of what should be a rare debilitating disease by putting himself forward for grueling challenges over the years, raising thousands of pounds for charity.
In November he received our sister paper DFP’s sponsored Fundraising Award at Monday’s SuperKids Awards for 2014.
Over the past eight years he has completed the Great North Run and the Great Manchester Junior runs on several occasions. And the determined teenager has also scaled the heights in his fundraising pursuit, climbing Yorkshire’s Three Peaks – Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
Jack has also climbed the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, to raise thousands of pounds for blood cancer charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
Earlier this year the 16-year-old was part of a star studded audience of TV and sporting personalities who attended Stephen Sutton Teen Hero Awards at Wembley, created in memory of the 19-year-old who raised £5 million for charity before his death from cancer in May.
Jack’s proud mum Linda said: “I am immensely proud of my son.”
Jack added: “I do what I can to help other people. Yes, I have Moebius Syndrome, but that is not a terminal illness like blood cancer can often be.”