Bravery of little William - 09/09/2002

Little William Hardy has been treated to a day at Newcastle United's training ground after melting the players' hearts.The four-year-old, who lost both his legs and his left arm after he contracted meningitis two years ago, was invited to the ground by Robbie Elliott after the soccer star read about the little lad in the Chronicle.William was shown around the ground and met the team before having his picture taken with stars including Alan Shearer.Robbie said: "I got a letter at the club about William, asking if I wanted to get involved, and it was something that appealed to me because I've got two children the same age as William and his brother Alex."We get a lot of letters at the club but this one really stood out."Once I'd met the lad I was delighted to have got involved and I'll be sticking with the campaign until they've got enough money."He's a lovely chap and the lads were all pleased to meet him and have a chat at the training ground."I wish him and his family the best of luck with their campaign to raise enough money for his new legs."

William has learnt to walk on his NHS legs, but needs state of the art prosthetic limbs if he is to achieve his dream - to play football like his heroes.Unfortunately the legs come with a price tag, and his parents have joined forces with the Chronicle to raise thousands of pounds to put into a trust fund for him.Generous Chronicle readers have already sent in cheques and cash to the tune of more than 11,000 and pledged to raise much more with a series of fundraising events and sponsored runs, walks and silences.This weekend the fund is to receive another boost as the William Hardy Trust Ball is held on Saturday night.The black tie event includes a champagne reception and meal, and will be attended by celebrities including Robbie Elliott and Newcastle United defender Andy O'Brien, boxer Billy Hardy, and Century Radio DJ Paul "Goffy" Gough.

It is hoped the ball will raise thousands more pounds for the fund.William's parents Jeremy and Hilary, of Holly Avenue, Jesmond, Newcastle, thanked everybody who has contributed to the fund.Mrs Hardy said: "We are very grateful and we are quite taken aback by the amount of interest there has been and the response. People have been very generous, I did not know what to expect."Anyone who wants to donate money should make a cheque payable to the William Hardy Trust Fund and send it to Emma Cox, Evening Chronicle, Groat Market, Newcastle NE1 1ED. Anyone who wants to offer other types of help should call (0191) 201 6493 or email emma.cox@ncjmedia.co.uk.


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