Two teams of celebrities will face off at a football match which will raise money to help a three-year-old boy with a rare form of cancer.
Jeff Brazier, Dan Osborne and Jake Quickenden are among the famous faces playing in the football fundraiser for Archie Wilks, from Saffron Walden, Essex, who is being treated for neuroblastoma.
Archie’s parents, Simon and Harriet Wilks, have been told that almost half of children who successfully complete treatment for neuroblastoma will relapse and, of those whose cancer returns, nine out of 10 will not survive.
Family and friends are trying to raise £200,000 to take the Tottenham Hotspur fan – whose identical twin brother Henry is not affected by neuroblastoma – to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York for a trial vaccine treatment which may prevent the cancer from returning once he is in remission.
Mr Wilks told PA that enabling Archie to try the vaccine treatment will “allow us all to know we have done everything possible to give Archie the best chance at life”.
More than £70,000 has already been raised through a family fun day, quiz night and sponsored events, and it is hoped the match on Sunday July 21 at Saffron Walden Town Football Club will give the campaign a further boost.
Quickenden told PA he hoped the event would raise lots of money.
“I can’t begin to imagine what Archie’s family are going through, especially with him being such a young boy.
“I lost my dad and younger brother to cancer so I know first hand just how devastating it can be.”
Quickenden’s father Paul died in 2008 and his 19-year-old brother, Oliver, died in 2012. Both had forms of bone cancer.
Quickenden, who won the 2018 series of Dancing on Ice, added: “I want to see as many people as possible come out and help to support Archie and his family, I’m sure it will be a great day and an emotional one.”
Quickenden, Kieran Hayler and Cliff Parisi are among the well known names who will play for Archie’s Journey Celebrity FC. Heavy D from Storage Hunters is the team manager with Diversity dancer Sam Craske as head coach.
They will face Archie’s Celebrity Army XI who will be captained by Archie’s father with Neil “Razor” Ruddock as player/manager and Calum Best as head coach.
The squad is due to feature Brazier and Osborne.
Ruddock, who is currently on a diet and fitness regime to cut down from 25 stone, told PA: “I was asked to play which is not a very good idea with the size of me, so I wangled it so I could be manager.
“I’m not going to pick myself.”
Ruddock, who runs the soccerspeaker.co.uk booking website, said he will be shouting at his team on the day. “I will have the loudest voice in the ground.”
He added: “I don’t like losing, charity or no charity.
“I want them to be in bed early on Saturday night. It’s a big match.”
Ruddock added: “I want to help Archie to raise money to go to America.
“I think when you have got kids of your own that really hits home. It gets in your head.”
— archiesjourneycharitygame (@archiesjourney1) June 20, 2019
The match has been organised by Daniel Pope who will captain Archie’s Journey Celebrity FC.
Mr Pope, 30, a father of three from Church Langley, Harlow, Essex, said: “I have known Simon since we were 11 years old and have been best friends ever since.
“I wanted to help in any way I could and, football being close to us both, this was something I knew we could do.”
Mr Pope, who works in car insurance as a team manager, said: “It’s been a tough job so far but will be worth it in the end.
“Archie deserves the world as do Simon and Harriet and this will help along his journey.”
To book tickets for the football match (£11.25 for adults, £8 for under 16s) visit www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Cambridge/Saffron-Walden-Town-Football-Club/Archies-Journey-Celebrity-Charity-Football-Match/13556597/.
To donate visit: www.justgiving.com/campaign/Archiesjourney.