Valiant Sam to present matchball on behalf of East Anglia's Children's HospicesTHE East Anglian derby is a firm favourite for all loyal football fans across our region, but for a life-long fan who receives support from a local children's hospice, it will be extra special as he will be the Norwich City Community Hero.
Sam James, 13, from Norfolk, will present the matchball on the pitch ahead of the match against Ipswich at Carrow Road on Sunday. He will be accompanied to the ground by his dad Andy and a couple of friends who will watch the match with him.
Sam, who is a pupil at Fakenham Academy and a keen sportsman, was referred to East Anglia's Children's Hopsices (EACH) in October last year after he was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour. Since his diagnosis, Sam, his dad Andy, and 16-year-old brother Johnny, have received guidance and support from the charity.
Since diagnosis, Sam has undergone surgery twice - once to relieve pressure and the other to remove the tumour - and he's had intensive radiotherapy treatment which left him unable to eat or walk. During this time Sam was schooled at home, used a wheelchair for mobility and was gastrostomy fed.
Sam, who is now undergoing rounds of chemotherapy, no longer uses a wheelchair and is back at school.
Sam said: "I never realised what the many hardships of my condition were until it was too late to fully prepare myself for what was going to happen. The worst part was seeing my Dad and brother suffering with me, but now as I am feeling much better we can do some of the things we used to do as a family. I'm now really looking forward to the future, and in particular playing football and swimming."
Andy, Sam's Dad, said: "Sam is a life-long Norwich City fan and we're all really pleased he's been chosen to attend the match. We're going with our friends John and Guy and I know we'll all have a great day.
"Sam is sports mad and before he became unwell he used to play football for the Hindolveston Youth team and swam for the county as part of the Dereham Otters Swimming Club. Sam was coached by Chris Sutton, the ex Norwich City player, too. We try and go to Norwich City games as much as possible and we're delighted to be a part of this special match.
"It's been tough for me as a single parent. Sam and Johnny's Mum Carolyn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago and died three and half years after diagnosis. She prepared them really well for her passing and I'm just so proud of both of my boys."
Throughout the season, Norwich City are celebrating the good work local people do in their community. Ahead of every home match the club is welcoming a deserving community-minded individual to the game to place the matchball onto a special plinth ready for the referee and players to emerge from the tunnel and collect the ball for the game.
Sam will have the opportunity to carry the ball out onto the pitch on Sunday and be introduced to the crowd before taking his seat for the game.
Laura Carver, EACH Norfolk Fundraiser, said: "Norwich City are fantastic supporters of EACH and we're delighted that they've been able to offer this opportunity to Sam and his family. They'll have a great day and we'd like to thank the club for their support."
The charity supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk. Their support is tailored for the needs of all family members and delivered where the families wish - in their own home, at hospital, in the community or at one of three hospices in Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham.
EACH delivers a wide range of services through short-break care, emotional and psychological support, symptom management, care at end of life, bereavement support and many activities and therapies.
The charity replies on voluntary donations for the majority of its income and needs to raise almost £6 million to deliver services this year - £16,000 a day, every day of the year.
For more information about EACH, including forthcoming events and how you can help raise funds, visit www.each.org.uk or call the Norfolk fundraising office on: 01953 666767.