Football is at the heart of one Hucknall family so it seemed fitting that in the face of tragedy, the game was going to bring solace for them and support for others.
When Chris and Diane Dowhan’s son Craig was tragically killed in a car accident in March 2014, his family and friends turned their grief and despair into hope by organising a football tournament in his memory.
It proved a winning formula with hundreds of people turning out to support the day and a team was put together which has since joined the local league.
Following on from the day’s success, it was decided to make it an annual event in a bid to keep the memory and spirit of Craig alive and to continue to raise money for local good causes.
Held at Rolls-Royce Leisure on Hucknall’s Watnall Road on 5th August, this year’sevent raised over £1,000.
“It was a brilliant day and we received tremendous support from the community,” said Chris Dowhan who works as a county coach developer for the FA.
Four teams took part in the tournament, with FC Dowhan taking on last year’s winners Linby in the final, but unfortunately lost.
But one of the winners from the day is a boycalled Aston Walls who it has been decided will receive £250 from the day’s fundraising.
It was one of the FC Dowhan players who nominated Aston after hearing about his family’s fundraising mission to provide a special wheelchair to make his mobility easier.
“It was Gavin Mee who put forward Aston and we were delighted to help,” added Chris who lives on Sandy Lane, Hucknall. “I got in touch with his mum Sarah who told us about their situation and we were happy to help.”Aston is nine years old and has a progressive muscle wasting disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
“We are very grateful to Gavin for putting Aston forward as a beneficiary of the FC Dowhan football fundraising efforts,” said Aston’s mum, Sarah Walls. “Aston was born with this condition but we were unaware until he was diagnosed at three years old.”
DMD is a genetic condition. It affects about 1 in 3,500 boys in the UK who are born with DMD. It is a serious condition which starts in early childhood.
“Although DMD is usually inherited, Aston’s condition is a rare and spontaneous gene mutation,” explains the 31 year-old mum of two. “All of the muscles in Aston’s body are literally wasting away, causing gradual paralysis.”
Aston uses a powered wheelchair full time and the family have had to make many adaptations to their Browtowe Avenue home in Kimberley.
“We have had to spend our entire life-savings buying multiple pieces of equipment, like hoists and wheelchair adaptations to our van in order to give Aston a good quality of life and try and ensure his independence.
“I also had to give up my job last year as caring for Aston and working just proved too much,” added Sarah whose role was supporting victims of domestic abuse.
“The equipment that he needs is very expensive and he will soon need a new, more suitable power-chair ahead of his transition into secondary school.”
The cost of the wheelchair that will best suit Aston’s needs will cost £27,000 and although the family is hoping to secure a sizeable donation from a charity they still have to find 20 per cent of the cost on top of on-going associated costs.
“We never set about asking for help so for the team to donate £250 is brilliant and we are grateful for their help,” added Sarah who also has a six year-old daughter with husband Jason who works as a theatre assistant at the Queen’s Medical Centre.
“Despite Aston’s difficulties and struggles to care and provide for his needs, he is a very happy, integrated and social boy,” added Sarah. “He is really enthusiastic and loves getting involved in school events and loves sport and has a passion for football. He currently plays in goal for the Nottingham Wheeled Warriors PFC which he loves.
“He is very laid back and has taken his condition in his stride. There are times that he gets frustrated when he can’t stand or walk or go to sleepovers with his friends but most of the time he is very positive and just gets on with it.”
Aston and his family have been invited to attend the next home game of FC Dowhan next Sunday where a cheque will be presented on behalf of the team to Aston.
If you would like to help fundraise for Aston call Sarah on 0779 2052216.