Bradley Lowery, the six year old Sunderland fan who inspired the nation after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma has sadly passed away.
Mum Gemma posted on Bradley’s Facebook earlier today to confirm that Bradley went with the angels, surrounded by his family at 13:35.
The cheeky, fun-loving youngster etched himself in to the nations hearts with his trademark grin and thumbs up – often in the most agonising of situations. Bradley struck up an instant and loving friendship with his ‘best mate’ Jermain Defoe – who regularly visited the youngster and spent hours talking to him in his hospital bed before cuddling him until he went to sleep.
Sunderland’s inspired great escape act during the 2015/16 Premier League relegation battle was largely down to their little superhero’s influence and secured their top flight status with a 3-0 win against Everton, for which Bradley was mascot. Not only did this secure their own Premier League status, but it also condemned their bitter rivals Newcastle United to relegation.
Since then, and despite his deteriorating health, Bradley has shown the world what heroes are made of. Everton were so taken aback with the youngster that they asked him to be their mascot when Manchester City visited Goodson Park last season – Bradley obliged but insisted that he wanted to wear his Sunderland shirt!
Bradley’s plight also inspired football fans from all over the country to unite against cancer – so much so that many clubs created flags with Sunderland’s crest on it together with their own, emblazoned with ‘Cancer Has No Colours’.
Away fans sat on the third tier at the Stadium of Light regularly chanted Bradley’s name and last Christmas he received an estimated 300,000 cards from well wishers from around the globe.
Bradley also has the honour of being the only non-footballer to have ever received the Match of the Day Goal of the Month award. During December 2016 he was again mascot for the Mackems and in the build up to the match he majestically struck an inch perfect shot past Tibo Courtois in the Chelsea goal.
He shared the award with Manchester United’s Henrik Mkhitaryan for his audacious back flick at Old Trafford – ironically against Sunderland.
Bradley has continued to post cheeky, heart-warming videos to his Facebook page, yet as his health continued to deteriorate his public appearances began to drop.
Despite this, Jermain continued to ring Gemma (Bradley’s Mum) every day to check up on him, and regularly visited with arms full of toys.
Over the past few weeks however Bradley has found it increasingly difficult to breathe as his symptoms worsened. Yet the fight had by no means gone, even at this traumatic stage as he is said to have kept forcing himself awake in order to give another cheeky grin, no matter how hard that now was.
Bradley, it is difficult to put in to words what an incredible, inspiring little boy you are, and always will be. Through your pain you not only found strength, but also gave it to so many people on a global scale.Your smile will continue to light up the darkest of places forevermore and when it is our time to come and join you I hope that we are able to show as much courage and determination as you have so valiantly.
At times like this, it is traditional to hope that Bradley rests in peace but I’m not sure that this is applicable for our hero. I for one hope that wherever Bradley now is, he will be running around causing mischief with that adorable grin and his thumbs up high.
This may seem like the end but in truth it is just the beginning, it is up to us all to make sure your legacy never dies irrespective of who we support, where we live or who we are.
Thank you for the memories Bradley, you will never be forgotten.
(Featured image courtesy of Dave @ Peter Hilton Photography)