A pair of young, football-mad cancer patients had the dream opportunity to step out on the pitch for the William Hill Scottish Cup Final.
David Carr, seven, and Samuel Lough, 11, put months of hospital visits and gruelling treatment behind them as they joined the Rangers and Hibernian teams as mascots on Saturday.
Samuel, from Perth, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after experiencing hip pains.
About a month before his diagnosis he had been selected for an SFA soccer school for elite junior players. But his life was put on hold as he underwent intensive chemotherapy at Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh.
His father, Shaun, said: “For us as parents, seeing Samuel recover from such a dark period in his life, to experience such a special moment as this was wonderful.
“It was in our mind that the Hibs players visited the hospital about a week before Christmas last year and would have seen a boy who was in the middle of his chemotherapy, very unwell and desperately missing his football.
“On match day they saw Samuel again, with his treatment completed, his hair regrown, having regained weight and returned to football, and it was emotional for all of us. We love him dearly and are so proud of him.”
David, from Grangemouth, was only five when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour after collapsing at home. Following surgery, the tumour came back, meaning he started chemotherapy in February.
His mother, Laura, said: “The whole experience has been horrible and hard for him and for the whole family. He is so young and no child deserves something like this.
“He was so excited about the day, which was such a wonderful experience for him. We are really grateful that he will get to experience something like this. After everything he has been through, it was a special day.”
The special day, which saw both youngsters walk out on the Hampden Park turf with the teams, was organised by William Hill, a supporter of CLIC Sargent.
CLIC Sargent Regional Fundraising Manager Chris McColgan said: “This really is a fantastic experience for these boys and I am sure it’s a day that they will never forget.
“CLIC Sargent wants to change what it means to be diagnosed with cancer when you’re young, and it is through great experiences like this that young patients are really able to get the most out of life.
“We are hugely grateful to William Hill for its support of the charity.”
A William Hill spokesman said: “We were delighted to provide this special opportunity to two great young football fans. CLIC Sargent provides vital support for young cancer patients across Scotland and we are very happy to be supporting such a cause.”
CLIC Sargent is currently fundraising towards a £3 million target to move its Homes from Home in Edinburgh and Glasgow to be close to the new hospitals in those cities.
These homes provide free accommodation for families while a child or young person goes through cancer treatment, helping them spend more time together, and saving them from high travelling costs.
Marion’s House, the new home in Glasgow, was successfully opened in 2015, while the charity plans to build a new home, to replace CLIC Villa, when the Royal Hospital for Sick Children moves in 2017.
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