West Bromwich Albion and Republic of Ireland footballer, James McClean, made it possible for a Derry teenager recovering from cancer to experience VIP treatment at a recent football match.
Jamie Harkin, 17, from the Springtown Road area of the city, was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 4B when he was 12 years-old in 2011.
After undergoing intensive treatment, Jamie started to slowly recover but he was diagnosed with cancer again in 2013.
Jamie, a pupil at Lumen Christi College, recovered from cancer a second time but decided he wanted to use the memories of his darkest days and turn them into a positive.
In 2015, Jamie set-up his own charity naming it ‘Jamie’s Journie’.
The happy-go-lucky Derry teenager has displayed tremendous strength and selflessness over the last 12 months to help other children living with cancer.
Throughout the year Jamie has hosted several fundraising events.
When he contacted the Derry born professional footballer, James McClean, last month to ask him to donate a signed West Bromwich Albion football jersey nothing could have prepared him for what McClean did next.
“We simply asked for a signed top and not only did we get it, but James also insisted on bringing me and my family over to treat us to watching a West Brom game with his family in their VIP box,” said Jamie.
Sadly, Jamie has become gradually unwell since the trip to England and is currently receiving treatment in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.
“This was the last day that I actually felt half decent. It is a day that I will never forget. Meeting Erin, James’ wife-to-be, little Allie-Mae and Junior, James’ kids, and his best friend Rory, who is also a scout in London, we had an amazing day and were made to feel totally at home by James and his amazing family.”
Jamie’s mum, Patricia, praised the Republic of Ireland winger for giving her son what she described as a “gift of a lifetime.”
“James heard about the work that Jamie was doing in Derry and was really impressed,” she said.
“Jamie was looking for a signed football jersey to raffle off at a fundraiser but James told him that he would pay for Jamie, myself, my husband and our younger daughter to travel over to see West Bromwich Albion play Sunderland at The Hawthorns - it was a gift of a lifetime,” she said.
Creggan Heights born McClean also presented Jamie with his own personalised West Bromwich Albion jersey with the name ‘Jamie printed on the back.