Guilden Morden footballers’ naked calendar drums up funds for Hemingford Abbots boy’s wheelchair
- Credit: Archant
A football-mad 10-year-old is on his way to having his own powered wheelchair to play an adapted version of the sport in, thanks to a Guilden Morden charity, and walking football club members getting their kit off to raise funds.
Dan Mclellan, from Hemingford Abbots in Cambridgeshire, has progressive muscle wasting condition Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy, and currently plays powerchair football using a borrowed chair at Herts-based Aspire Powerchair Sports Club.
Dan's father James approached Wheels for Martin's Friends asking if the Guilden Morden-based charity could help Dan get his own chair - which will cost £10,000 - and received a £3,000 donation.
The charity works to help fund wheelchairs for those who need them in memory of Martin Dellar, who was the recipient of an electric wheelchair after the charity was founded in 1989.
The Guilden Morden Walking Football Club members - aged 50 to 75 - are also doing their bit too, stripping off for a Calendar Girls-style shoot to drum up further funds.
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Dan lives with dad James, mum Debra and brother Charlie, 12. James told this paper: "Dan is an amazing boy, he is outgoing and competitive and we've always focused on what he can do rather than what he can't.
"A powered chair isn't available on the NHS to Dan, because he has a day-wheelchair it's not a necessity - this is for a hobby. For another boy you would just buy a pair of football boots, unfortunately Dan's 'football boots' cost £10,000.
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"We were blown away with what the charity have done, and the Guilden Morden walking footballers.
"I don't think they will even truly know what this has meant to him. They have given this child a real goal and purpose in life and given him the wheels to facilitate him in playing a sport he loves."
Sandra Lloyd, who lives in Guilden Morden and is the wife of the walking football club secretary and 'calendar boy', Alan, said: "The football club heard about Dan as members are also on the committee of Aspire Powerchair Sports Club.
"Even at his young age he is playing in teams with adults, he is truly talented and deserves to succeed further."
Sandra and Alan's son Wil, who is 20 and a film production student, shot the players posing in the style of the Calendar Girls with "some classic and some hilarious" photos.
Tony Charter, 61, who founded the walking football team, said: "It all began with three mates having a beer after football training. We were throwing ideas around as to how we could help raise money for Dan's chair. The Calendar Boys project sounded like fun and it has been! Meeting Dan though changed our perspective, suddenly we really had a purpose. Meeting Dan in person made taking your kit off and posing for the photo so easy, and to think how much Dan will benefit from the money raised is very heart warming."
Fellow player Pete Furmston, 72, who is also on the Wheels for Martin's Friends committee, added: "Stripping off in public is not something I normally do, although I have been skinny dipping before. I did feel a little self conscious, but it was only the photographer and me.
"Goodness knows what my wife will think when she sees it. But what the heck, it's all for a good cause."
Reflecting on the difference Dan having his own chair could have, Aspire Powerchair Sports Club chair Steve Kelly said: "Dan has been playing to a very high standard considering his age and that currently he must rely on borrowing a chair to play football. Since joining us, Dan's confidence has grown greatly and would benefit from having his own equipment to play.
"With the coaching and training he is receiving, and the right equipment, Dan will continue to progress his ability and has already played at both regional and national league level this year.
"In more than 15 years of involvement with powerchair football, Dan is one of the brightest prospects I have seen. It is most important that we
help him progress and fulfil the potential he is showing."
The club intend to publish and sell the finished calendar in November as part of the fundraising campaign. If you run a businesses which would like to sponsor a page in return for a small donation, email secretary Alan Lloyd at email@example.com.