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Charity football match held in memory of late Thatcham mum

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A youth football team have raised money in memory of the late mum and wife of a local family.

Coach Jason Cleary’s wife Jane was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in October 2018.

She underwent intense chemotherapy which initially put her illness into remission.

Jason Cleary (left of Mayor) with the fundraisers
Jason Cleary (left of Mayor) with the fundraisers

The summer of 2019 “seemed normal” for the couple and their two children, Max and Georgia, but later that year her leukaemia returned.

By Christmas Jane was having further intense chemotherapy and on the waiting list for a bone marrow transplant.

Jane’s transplant procedure was successful but by Christmas 2020 the illness was proving “too strong” and returned. Jane lost her battle with leukaemia in August 2021.

Jason Cleary leads a minutes applause
Jason Cleary leads a minutes applause

The Thatcham Town Harriers under 15s held a fundraising football event in her memory on May 7.

The “great spirited” match raised £789 for Daisy’s Dream, a charity that supports children through bereavement.

“I asked what charity [Jason] would would like to donate to," said coach and event organiser Michael Joyce. "He told me it was for Daisy’s Dream, as both Max and Georgia had received counselling."

Mr Joyce and Mr Cleary had run the team together for around a decade, right from when their children started in the under 6s.

The team and fundraisers
The team and fundraisers

“It really struck a chord with me and I think that was the case for the fundraising group also,” Mr Joyce added.

“We had raised money a few years ago for the Leukaemia Trust while Jane was still undergoing treatment.

“I managed to get a signed football from the Man United foundation as a prize which now sits proudly in Max’s bedroom.”

Thatcham Mayor John Boyd Kicks off on his last ever job as Mayor
Thatcham Mayor John Boyd Kicks off on his last ever job as Mayor

Mr Joyce said that as Jane’s illness progressively worsened, the team saw Jason less as he spent his time caring for his wife or visiting her in hospital.

He said: “We agreed to keep everything normal for Max, so I made sure he always got to training and played every Saturday.”

The charity match began with a one-minute applause and the first kick of the game came from mayor of Thatcham John Boyd – for whom this was a last official mayoral event.

Community fundraiser for Daisy’s Dream, Joanne Stewart, was also in attendance.

The day also saw football speed shots, tombola, spot the ball, a cake sale and a barbecue.

Prizes were donated from local businesses Inks Personalised, Sweet Imagination, Bella Luna, Moto Cycle and Thatcham Town Football Club.

The donation page is being kept open and donations can be made to Daisy’s Dream here: https://bit.ly/3L7oAcK

So far, from the match and the online fundraising, a total of £2,102 has been raised.

Mr Joyce said: “It certainly lived up to Jason’s and his family's hopes and expectations raising an amount way beyond our initial hopes.”

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