Young carer achieves his ‘lifelong dream’ to go to Anfield - thanks to comedian Russell Howard
- Credit: LIBBY LEONARD
A boy has achieved his dream of seeing Liverpool Football Club play at Anfield – thanks to a famous comedian.
Blake Leonard, 11, from Long Melford, who cares for his mum Libby, was approached by the team behind the Russell Howard Hour on Sky One after they picked up on our story about his campaign to get chocolate selection boxes to young carers across Suffolk.
READ MORE: Choc champion Blake wants young carers to know they are not aloneAs well as filming Blake, who attends Ormiston Sudbury Academy, collecting boxes and giving them out to young carers at his school, they also presented him with a gift at home, which turned out to be from Russell.
As Blake does so much for everybody else - and won't even take a selection box for himself - the comedian said in a note: 'I thought you deserved something for you'.
Inside was revealed to be a 'golden ticket' to see the Liverpool game at home on Saturday, December 14 - all on the comedian's season ticket.
The show paid for a taxi, hotel and four-course breakfast before kick-off.
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Possibly most importantly for the family, they were able to watch the game from a special area for people with disabilities, which Libby said was "so much easier for my anxiety".
The 40-year-old, who suffers with the debilitating condition secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), said the Russell Howard team had "thought of absolutely everything", even supplying her with a wheelchair that she can keep - saving the family having to raise the funds.
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Blake chose Liverpool to be his team when he was about five after being moved by footage about the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died, and told Libby "I'm going to be red mum, this team deserves my respect".
Libby added: "We became Liverpool fans and it went straight on the bucket list to get him to Liverpool one day. That's the one thing that has stayed at the top of the bucket list all the way through.
"We never thought we would get him there, but we did. It was emotional. We cried a lot. The first thing we did was go to the Hillsborough memorial. We cried there. The whole day was amazing. They pulled out all the stops for us."
Blake added: "It was just so overwhelming. It's been my lifelong dream to go to Anfield."
Sharing the footage from the show on his Facebook page, Russell wrote: "Here is a lovely burst of Christmas Cheer in such divided times. Blake is an amazing Young Carer who is making a huge impact to those just like him. Check out Chocs For Champs on Facebook."
Libby said the response following his post on December 18, and then the show being broadcast on TV the following day, had been "incredible", adding they had received offers of support for Chocs for Champs from right across the UK and have now got more than 900 selection boxes.
READ MORE: Young carer tells MPs - 'At school I may seem distracted, but I'm worrying about mum'
A key aim of Blake's has been to raise awareness of young carers - something the Russell Howard Hour has boosted - and for Chocs for Champs to go national.
Suffolk Family Carers, an organisation Blake is registered with and also features in the film, said: "Chocs for Champs demonstrates how young carers are proactively reducing the stigma associated with their caring role.
"Blake's long-term goal is to spread his campaign wider than Suffolk which Suffolk Family Carers are fully committed in supporting Blake's aspirations to become a reality."
-Search for Chocs for Champs on Facebook.
-For more information about Suffolk Family Carers see here.