Hollyoaks cast members will take on the UK’s first football team whose players have had life-saving organ transplants, at a special charity match on Thursday, June 9 at Select Security Stadium, Widnes to help raise awareness of organ donation.
Anna Louise Bates, the mother and wife who donated her husband and son’s organs following a tragic collision, and the parents of the youngest ever organ donor will be guests of honour at the match which aims to raise awareness of the need for families to discuss their wishes on organ donation.
Special guests, Anna-Louise Bates, will speak at the match about the importance of discussing organ donation amongst families. She said the decision to donate her seven-year-old son Fraser’s organs has “given her hope and provided her with the strength to make a difference to other people’s lives”, following the collision which killed Fraser and husband, Stewart last December.
Anna will be joined by Mike Houlston and Jess Evans, the parents of the UK’s youngest organ donor, their newborn son, Teddy Houlston. Teddy lived just two hours, with his parents making the decision to donate his kidneys which were used to save an adult’s life in April 2015.
The match, organised by two times kidney transplant recipient, Steve Woodrow, 40 from Widnes will see the UK’s first official transplant football team, Liverpool Transplant FC, play their first ever game against a team of actors from Hollyoaks.
The transplant football team of 16 players have joined forces after meeting at training for this year’s Westfield Health British Transplant Games that will take place in Liverpool from July 28-31 2016. The annual competition will see over 900 people who have all recieved life saving organ transplants arrive in Liverpool to take part in a variety of sports including swimming, table tennis, running, tug-o-war and darts.
Organiser of the charity football match, Steve Woodrow is also the football coordinator for this year’s British Transplant Games. Taking part himself for the first time, he has been so motivated by other transplant recipients and their recovery through sport, ahead of the Games, that he has set up the first transplant football team recognised by the Football Association, hoping to leave a legacy of transplant football in the UK.
Steve Woodrow said “After having a transplant, I found myself very depressed in my recovery. It is sport that has helped me both physcially and mentally to take control and help me live my life to the full. I’ve been so inspired by the power of sport that I’ve set up my own sporting company and the UK’s first transplant football team, who will play for the first time against the Hollyoaks team on Thursday evening.
“I’m very grateful to the Hollyoaks cast for supporting such a worthwhile cause and am so humbled by Anna Louise Bates and Teddy Houlston’s parents who have wanted to come and show their support, telling the other side of the organ donation story. I’d urge the public to come along for what promises to be an inspirational evening and a celebration in gratitude to all donors, and their families, who have given us the gift of life.”
Steve will be joined by fearless players who do not let their health problems limit their ability to get involved in sport, despite having had transplants including heart, kidney, lung, pancreas and liver transplants.
Hollyoaks players include Nick Picard (Tony Richardson) and Ashley Taylor-Dawson (Darren Osborne) and Jamie Lomas (Warren Fox) who have been very keen to help raise awareness of organ donation.
The match will be referreed by premiership referee Mike Dean, whose neice Maisie Dahner, 10, from Wirral had a liver transplant aged 4. Maisie is an ambassador for the upcoming Westfield Health British Transplant Games, having won a host of medals at the Games over the last five years. Participants from The Royal Liverpool Transplant Sport Team including transplant surgeons, recipients and their families will be in attendance for the uplifting event.