People affected by cancer and those who care for them will have the chance to see the Whites play at home following a campaign organised by Leeds United and Yorkshire Cancer Research.
To mark their continued partnership, the club and charity teamed up with the Yorkshire Evening Post to invite fans to nominate someone special for the chance to win hospitality tickets at Elland Road.
More than 250 nominations were received, and 10 successful hospitality ticket nominees have now been chosen to enjoy the special treat.
Juliet Glendinning, Director at Yorkshire Cancer Research said: “We thank everybody who sent in nominations for being so open and willing to share their thoughts and love for their chosen nominee. Each nomination demonstrated such great strength of character, compassion, and celebration of life.”
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges, including Leeds United legend Dominic Matteo, The Athletic’s Phil Hay and Yorkshire Evening Post editor Laura Collins.
James Mooney, Head of Communications at Leeds United, and Juliet Glendinning were also on the panel.
Dominic, who is recovering from a brain tumour after being diagnosed in 2019, said: “I was honoured to be part of the panel for this great give back. So much happened for the club while the fans were away from Elland Road and we missed a lot of key moments. It made the 16-year wait to return to the Premier League feel even longer. So it’s great to be able to say thank you for the support by offering this opportunity to those affected by cancer.”
The 10 winners will receive four hospitality tickets to a Premier League match at Elland Road. This will include a pre-game meal and complimentary drinks in an executive suite, along with half-time and full-time lounge access. Each guest will also receive a copy of the Official Matchday Programme and Team Sheet.
Juliet continued: “Everyone was very worthy of the tickets, and it was an incredibly difficult process choosing our final 10 nominees. We will be in touch directly with each person who sent in a nomination to offer them our thanks and best wishes, and to involve them in exciting future opportunities at Elland Road.”
The winning nominees
12-year-old Alfie was nominated by his mum, Jodie, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.
She said: “I am a single mum to two amazing boys and Alfie is the eldest. In November 2019, I was diagnosed with cancer, and I felt like my world had fallen apart. One of the hardest parts was having to tell Alfie. He was so brave and has helped me through the worst time of my life. I am beyond proud of him.”
Daniel was diagnosed with a brain tumour 16 years ago at the age of 10. He had surgery to remove the tumour, which left him with side effects such as speech and motor skill problems. He also had radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
After finishing treatment, Daniel went on to fundraise for various cancer charities, and has since completed a degree at Scarborough University in Professional Accountancy.
A Leeds United fan for many years, Daniel was nominated by his mum Caroline. She said: “Dan is my son, and I am tremendously proud of him. Life has not been easy, but he has achieved so much in 16 years through determination and hard work.”
Finlay was diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2020, when he was 14 years old. He began his treatment, which will continue until 2023, in the midst of the pandemic.
The teenager decided he wanted to give back to charities that had helped him during his treatment and walked a marathon in a month, raising more than £10,000.
His mum Nicola said: “Finlay continues to battle on and his sheer positivity has kept him going! He has recently returned to school and to doing what he loves most – football!”
Five-year-old George is a huge Leeds United fan, and his favourite pastime is pretending he’s goalkeeper Illan Meslier in the garden with his older brother.
He was diagnosed with leukaemia a week before his fourth birthday and spent the next six weeks in hospital receiving treatment. George’s treatment will continue until November 2023. The winning tickets will be George’s first trip to Elland Road to see the Whites play in person.
Michelle works on the Children’s Cancer Unit at Leeds General Infirmary. She was nominated by her mum Heidi, who took her to her first Leeds match at just eight months old.
Heidi said: “From going to homes during Covid to give chemotherapy to children, to taking bloods when there was no phlebotomist available, to working very long hours, the last year especially has been very stressful for Michelle. She is a wonderful caring nurse who does her absolute best for children going through cancer and their families.
“She was also a tower of strength to my family, when her dad, also a Leeds United supporter, battled throat cancer two years ago.”
Thomas lost his father to cancer in 2017, when he was just 14 years old. Despite such a massive loss in his young life, Thomas - who used to attend matches with his dad - has continued to study hard.
Thomas was nominated by his uncle Mark, who said: “Thomas always accompanied his dad to Elland Road and has continued his love for all things Leeds. He is a great young man despite all the adversity he has faced in his young life.”
Chris received the news that he had testicular cancer while his wife Tina was pregnant with their son. At the same time, Tina’s dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and Chris stepped up to be there for his wife while also going through treatment.
Tina said: “Chris was such a hero. He was always so strong for me and our unborn son. Chris has been a Leeds fan for as long as he can remember. He used to go to Elland Road with his dad and late grandfather, both of whom have their names on seats in the stand.”
Leighton was diagnosed with a rare form of brain tumour when he was six years old. He had multiple surgeries which initially left him unable to speak or move the left side of his body.
His dad Philip said: “He spoke two weeks later in the hospital, and when he saw me, his words were ‘Dad, love you’. From then on his recovery from the operation was remarkable and his movement came back during the next few weeks.”
Leighton went on to have radiotherapy and chemotherapy and finished his treatment in November 2019. He is now under the watchful eye of the oncology ward who monitor his condition.
Philip added: “He is my hero.”
Lisa was diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer in 2019, and began chemotherapy at the beginning of the pandemic. After receiving government advice to shield during lockdown, she made the difficult decision to move in with her mum and away from her husband and two sons. Lisa spent the next 10 months having conversations with her family from the end of the driveway.
Lisa’s chemotherapy was a success but she has since been told that the cancer has returned in her lungs. She receives treatment every three weeks.
Her husband, Darren, said: “Throughout all of this she has been amazing. Strong, positive, and still her usual caring and bubbly self. She is determined to keep living her life to the full.”
Gerry has been a Leeds United fan for over 50 years, and regularly attends matches with his son and grandson.
After being diagnosed with bowel cancer, Gerry had surgery and chemotherapy. He then had further surgery after the cancer spread to his liver and lungs.
Gerry was nominated by his daughter Sally, who said: “He took all of his treatment in his stride and has remained positive throughout. Football and Leeds United are his passions and have seen him through these hard times. He is a true Yorkshire lad.”