As part of the Manchester United Foundation’s partnership with The Christie, Carrington – even in its current state of renovation – is the setting for young cancer patients to undergo vital rehabilitation in the hydrotherapy pool.
After three years of treatment for chronic myeloid leukaemia at The Christie, 20-year-old Joshua began utilising the pool for exercise, having had his joints weakened by the ordeal. However, funds needed to be raised for a special, made-to-measure dry suit to protect his medication line.
Nine-year-old Thomas literally rode to the rescue. The youngster, whose aunt works at The Christie, learned of Josh’s situation and took on the Great Manchester Cycle, a 13 mile bike ride through the city. In completing the challenge, Thomas raised over £560, paying for Josh’s suit and other vital equipment.
The pair met for the first time at Carrington, also meeting Chris Smalling and several other first team players in an unforgettable afternoon.
“I’m a big United fan, it’s exciting being at Carrington,” grinned Thomas. “I can’t believe that I’m actually here! I just wanted to help to fight cancer. I think it is very important to help people have a second chance at life. I started with a target of £100 but I raised £560 - I had no idea I was going to raise that much.”
Josh, now able to swim for the first time in four years after receiving the suit, underlined the importance of being able to use the players’ pool. “With my condition I can’t really weight-bear on my joints,” he said. “I have to keep my joints moving so I don’t get muscle wastage so the only thing I can really do is swimming. It is really fantastic that I have somewhere to come and that amazing people like Thomas fundraise to help.”
For Smalling, meeting both Josh and Tom brought perspective to an otherwise regular day at Carrington. “It’s fantastic that young people like Josh are able to benefit from the facilities here,” said the England defender. “All the players have used the hydrotherapy pool, but knowing that Josh carried out some of his rehabilitation in the same pool really puts things in a different perspective. Using these facilities is a great initiative between the club and The Christie - long may it continue.”
If you wish to help support more young cancer patients like Josh, donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/ManUnited.