Our last Saturday home fixture saw us welcome a very special guest to the EnviroVent Stadium in Harry Wickham, who at the end of 2020 raised £15,000 for Candlelighters, a charity who have been helping children with cancer and their families since 1976.
For Harry and his family, the charity holds a special place in their hearts as they've been hugely supportive for Harry's 3-year-old cousin, Rosie, who was diagnosed with a spinal tumour in 2020. Two surgeries were needed to remove the vast majority of her tumour and Rosie has since undergone an intense 18-month chemotherapy regime.
Harry told us why he wanted to run to raise money to help Rosie…
“My mum asked me if I wanted to raise any money for charity and a few weeks after, I decided I wanted to do some running for Rosie, who has a poorly tumour. I was all prepared for the first few runs but got more and more tired with each run.
“I ran just short of 50km in December and January and raised £15,000. My target was £500 so I did a lot better than I expected. When I got over £500, I just said ‘wow' because I was really surprised and every day the number was getting bigger and bigger.”
Harry running in 2020, raising money for Candlelighters.
The final of Harry's 20 runs came in January 2021, and it saw the TV cameras, as well as people from all over the Harrogate support and congratulate him on his extraordinary achievement.
It was a moment that made his family very proud of him, as his dad Philip Wickham explained.
“There were a lot of family and friends there and it made for a really special day and made me and Sarah (Harry's mum) very proud. We ran with Harry and that meant running on Christmas Day and New Year's Day as well, it added up to a lot of running.
“What was nice about raising money for Candlelighters was that the money raised then helped fund family holidays to Centre Parcs for children currently undergoing treatment. Rosie and her brother Toby got to go with their mum and dad, which gave them such important family time together, which they otherwise would not have been able to have.”
Candlelighters is a Leeds based charity and are so important for providing emotional, practical, and financial support, as well as hope for children with cancer and their families.
The charity uses donations to invest in vital research to improve the outcomes and lives of children with cancer and on top of that, have a great presence in the Leeds Children's Hospital, being on hand to provide crucial front-line support for the families.
“Candlelighters have been amazing with Rosie and her family. For example, she was in hospital for the day recently and had been poorly over her clothes. Just like that they were able to give her box fresh PJs with ballerinas on, which made her so much happier,” Philip explained.
Rosie enjoying the football as Town play Walsall at the EnviroVent Stadium.
“It's the little things like that which Helen (Rosie's mum) tells us about that relieves a lot of pressure that a parent feels and makes such a difference to their experience.
“The charity is truly amazing and to know that Harry has raised quite a bit of money to help families going through such an awful experience is really nice.
On Saturday 19th March, Town's fixture at the EnviroVent Stadium was an opportunity for the Wickham family to get together and give Harry the day he deserved following his fundraising efforts. Harry got to play on the pitch with his teammates from Beckwithshaw, walk out with the Harrogate Town first team, have a kick about with Jack Diamond and Alex Pattison, and then had the big pressure of choosing the Man of the Match award.
“I thought in the first half we played pretty well and dominated but in the second half we gave away a penalty,” Harry analysed. “We scored in the last 10 seconds to equalise though and me and my family celebrated like crazy.
“I gave man of the match to Mark Beck because he's really tall and won the ball in the air a lot. He did everything but get the ball in the net,” Harry continued.
Harry presenting the Man of the Match award to Mark Beck.
“I really enjoyed the day, and I was really surprised that I got to have a kickabout with Alex Pattison and Jack Diamond.
“My favourite moment though was walking out with the players. I walked out with Warren Burrell and we both waved at my family who were all sat in the main stand.
“I'd give the day 100 out of 100 marks.”
For Philip and the family, they were blown away with how welcome they were made to feel and also the generosity, as the hospitality staff informed the family that 25p from each transaction would be donated to Candlelighters.
“The whole day was awesome, and we all loved it,” Philip said with a big smile. “The way Harry was treated was out of this world and it couldn't have gone any better. The biggest thing and the moment that got James (Rosie's dad) was when the ladies behind the bar said they'd donate 25p from every transaction to Candlelighters, that got us all quite emotional, to be honest.
Harry with his dad Philip (far right) and family in the hospitality suite at the EnviroVent Stadium.
“It was a phenomenal day, and all the staff were amazing. Joanne Towler and Sarah Barry were unreal, we couldn't have asked for anything more.
“It was the day Harry deserved. It all started two years ago, and it's been a long journey but a wonderful thing to do. There's a photo where he walks out with Warren and he's just looking up at him, it's really nice.”
There is also positive news regarding Rosie. A message from Helen (Rosie's mum) read out to us by Philip said:
“Rosie has just completed week 75 of 81 of her 18-month chemotherapy regime. Rosie is due to finish her treatment in May and we're looking forward to the break. We've had good weeks and really bad weeks from the side effects of the treatments, but she is such a resilient little girl, and the chemotherapy is working really well.”
The family plan to have a big party in May, and then a first holiday abroad for Rosie is scheduled for the summer, which Philip says will be a “really special” time.
For more information on the incredible work that Candlelighters do, visit https://www.candlelighters.org.uk/