Letchworth teenager’s special send-off as West Ham United crush Blackpool

A FOOTBALL mad teenager who is undergoing major heart surgery this week was treated to a special send-off at the weekend at the club he supports.

Ben Kirkham, of Letchworth GC, was invited to watch his beloved West Ham United play Blackpool on Saturday and was presented with a shirt signed by the team by his favourite player Mark Noble after the Championship game, before meeting manager Sam Allardyce.

The day out, in which the 18-year-old West Ham United season ticket holder saw his team triumph 4-0 at the Boleyn Ground, was organised by Geoff Horton, the caretaker at Lonsdale School in Stevenage where Ben attends.

Ben, who has cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting brain and nervous system functions, is undergoing the major operation at The Heart Hospital in Marylebone, London, so Geoff wanted to set up a treat prior to his operation.

Geoff, a Millwall fan, said he had shared a lot of “banter” with Ben at the special needs school because of the two London clubs’ bitter rivalry.

“All of the pupils and staff at Lonsdale wish all the best for his op and look forward to seeing him back at school as soon as possible,” he said.

“I’d also like to thank Laura Burkin, West Ham’s media officer, for all her hard work in arranging the day.”

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In Saturday’s matchday programme a statement from the club said: “Welcome to a special guest here today, Ben Kirkham. Everyone at West Ham United wishes you well with your operation and look forward to seeing you back at Upton Park soon.”

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