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Purple Butterfly tribute for Blades fan

21 Dec 2016 12:01:32

The family of a man who tragically died following a short battle with lung cancer will once again be hosting a charity football match in his memory. 

Rival teams Treeton Football Club and Brinsworth Whitehill will be donning their shorts and trainers on 28 December for the Neil Hirst memorial football match at the Phoenix Sports and Social Club in Brinsworth.

The event is being organised by Neil Hirst’s family and friends, including his wife Pauline and children, Wes, 35, Nick, 33 and 29-year-old Keeley. 

The third event of its kind will help raise money for The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s Purple Butterfly Appeal. The appeal raises money to provide rooms within the hospital so that patients nearing the end of their lives can have some home comforts, maintain dignity and privacy and allow patients and their loved ones the support they need when time is most precious. 

Pauline, of Treeton in Rotherham, was married to Neil for 35 years. She said: “My husband Neil died three years ago aged 56 after suffering lung cancer. The cancer had spread rapidly and after being diagnosed in September 2013, he died on 2 January 2014 at Rotherham Hospital.

“Neil was a Sheffield United fan and heavily involved in running local football clubs so we continue to remember him by hosting a memorial match every year between Christmas and New Year. My sons will be playing for Treeton and there will be a lot of friendly camaraderie at the match, rather than any fierce competition. It’s always a great atmosphere. 

“He really appreciated the care he received at Rotherham Hospital so we wanted to raise money for the Purple Butterfly Appeal. It’s so important to have family rooms available to offer more privacy and dignity to patients who are nearing the end of their lives and for their family and friends to feel they have somewhere homely and private to grieve, rather than be based on an ordinary ward. 

“I hope the match helps raise enough to see a fourth Purple Butterfly Family Room open in the New Year.”

The match will kick-off at 10.30am and will be followed by a raffle at the Treeton Cricket and Football Club at 1pm, where prizes include a TV, food and beauty hampers. The winners of the match will be rewarded with the Neil Hirst Memorial Trophy. 

Tracy Williams, Charity Development Officer, also said: “Pauline and her family have already raised more than £3,000 for the Community Charity’s Purple Butterfly Appeal, which is absolutely fantastic. Without dedicated volunteers like Pauline we wouldn’t have our three existing Purple Butterfly family rooms available at the hospital, which families tell us really do make a difference in very difficult circumstances. Good luck to the teams taking part in the memorial match.” 

To support the Purple Butterfly Appeal, or to buy raffle tickets for the Neil Hirst memorial football match call Tracy Williams on 01709 427589 or email Tracy.Williams@rothgen.nhs.uk.


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