Sunday, 16 October 2011

Tribute to little Jack – hero of Prem stars

HE was the brave little lad who planted a kiss on Wayne Rooney's head.
And yesterday, as tributes poured in for six-year-old Jack Marshall — who has died from a brain tumour — the Man Utd star was one of a host of Twitter followers to send his condolences.

Reds fan Jack visited the team's training ground in April and told the footballer: "I'd like to kiss you, Wayne. I think you are the best footballer in the world."

Defender Rio Ferdinand had organised the trip for the boy and his parents, Tracey and Craig, after hearing about his plight. Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was just four.

The news of his tragic death on Thursday was announced on Twitter.

The message from his parents said: "Covered in his beloved Man Utd blanket and snuggled in Tracey's arms, Jack decided that in true Manchester United fashion 'he'd do what he wants' for the final time and passed away peacefully with us, his family, at his side... We are all devastated, but take comfort in the fact that Jack lived life to the full right up to the very end."

During his treatment he endured a major op and gruelling bouts of chemo and radiotherapy without complaint.

Last night dad Craig, from Scunthorpe, said: "The way Jack dealt with his disease and smiled and just carried on with everything inspired everybody who met him."

Celebrities' Tweets

@JackWilshere: Sad day, privileged to have known little @Jack_Marshall_ thoughts with his family, will be missed by so many!

@ColeenRoo: Good night godbless. My thoughts and prayers are with all family and friends.

@WayneRooney: So sorry for the loss of little jack. He really touched me and my deepest sympathy is with u all. RIP jack. A true hero.

@rioferdy5: So sorry to hear he passed away, brave kid.

@serenawilliams: I am so happy I met you. Today is sad for me. You were a brave kid. I love u always.

By kate Jackson The Sun

13.10.2011 RIP Jackamo we love you

At 11am this morning (Thursday 13th October) the world changed forever. Covered in his beloved Man Utd blanket and snuggled in Tracey’s arms, Jack decided that in true Manchester United fashion “He’d do what he wants” for the final time and passed away peacefully with us, his family, at his side. He is now laid on his bed at our side, dressed in his Man Utd kit, with Snowman and Meerkat laying with him. We are all devastated, but take comfort in the fact that Jack lived life to the full right up to the very end. We are so very proud of Jack and the way he dealt with his disease, with a smile and a glint in his eye. Thank you, everyone of #jacksarmy for all your help and support so far. #RIPJackamoWELOVEYOUxx


Why Jack Wilshere took brave Jack Marshall to his heart By Oliver Holt

Why Jack Wilshere took brave Jack Marshall to his heart

By Oliver Holt
Published 21:00 11/10/11

Maybe it is because he has encountered tragedy in his life before that Jack Wilshere has done what he has done for little Jack Marshall and his family.

Maybe it is because Wilshere’s uncle, a young man who was more like a brother to him, was killed in a car crash at just 16.

“I had just played my first game for England Schoolboys and I was so happy and so thrilled,” Wilshere says.

“Then we got the news. My uncle was a passenger in a car that went out of control. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”

Or perhaps it’s because the Arsenal midfielder, the brightest young talent in English football, has known since the start of the year that he was to become a father himself.

Perhaps it’s because since his son, Archie, was born a fortnight ago, he has understood even more keenly how precious the gift of life is.

“When we got Archie,” Wilshere says, “it made me realise even more what Jack’s family are going through.

“Everyone hopes that what has happened to Jack will never happen to their kid.

“All I wanted was for Archie to be healthy when he was born but I still worry about him all the time, anyway.

“We check him over and over again at night. What’s happened to Jack is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

What happened to Jack Marshall, a beautiful, brave, loving child who has touched many, many people with his courage and his cheerfulness, was a brain tumour.

A tumour that transformed him from a carefree little boy obsessed with football in general and Manchester United in particular to a six-year-old kid clinging desperately to life.

What happened to him is that after surviving an operation to remove the primary tumour, he learned to walk again by tottering after a football sent by Sir Alex Ferguson.

What happened to him is that the brain tumour, a form of cancer which kills more kids in the UK than any other variation of the disease, began growing and spreading again.

And six months ago, the hospital sent him back to his home in Scunthorpe and told his parents, Tracey and Craig, and his elder brother Josh, 12, that Jack would be dead within days.

So while Tracey and Craig have been trapped in a living hell, Jack has defied the doctors’ predictions by fighting on and on.

And his parents have devoted every moment to caring for him, trying to make every day special for him, while they watch him fade.

To add to their anguish and for reasons only the kids involved could explain, some local boys have begun to bully Josh since his brother became ill.

A couple of months ago, he was beaten up in the local park while he was playing football.

Many people in sport have been kind. Rio Ferdinand helped to arrange a visit for Jack and his family to the Manchester United training ground.

Wayne Rooney has worn a Jack Marshall wristband to raise awareness of the prevalence of brain tumours and encourage their early detection.

And Serena Williams organised tickets for Jack and his family to meet her at Wimbledon in the summer and watch her play.

Wilshere, though, has been a constant. He might be 19 but he has behaved with the kind of care that most people only discover later in life.

I have visited Jack Marshall and sat at his bedside and it is not comfortable seeing a child enduring such suffering.

It is difficult emotionally, particularly if you have never been close to that kind of pain and misfortune.

The easy thing, particularly for a teenager with the football world at his feet, would be to turn away, to keep the kid at arm’s length. But Wilshere didn’t do that. He became aware of Jack’s plight through Twitter but he didn’t stop at supportive tweets or expressions of concern.

When Jack Marshall and his family made the journey south to watch the tennis at Wimbledon, Wilshere and his mum, Kerry, met them later in their trip and spent a day with them.

“My mum cried the whole way home,” Wilshere says. “There was something about Jack. It’s obvious, I suppose, but his strength in adversity was inspiring.”

Wilshere kept in touch. Aware that the family desperately needed a break from the strain of their day-to-day struggle, he invited them to watch Arsenal in the pre-season Emirates Cup at the end of July.

They went to Wilshere’s house for a barbeque and met Wilshere’s dad, Andy, too. They joked with Wilshere about the sleepless nights he was about to endure with the arrival of his baby.

Their own sleepless nights are different. They get up with their boy in the early hours, too, to give him medicine that keeps him alive. His wakefulness is limited now. Every time Wilshere sees him, he notices Jack is less and less able to talk.

Little Jack sleeps most of the day. His world is contracting as Wilshere’s opens up before him.

In mid-August, Wilshere invited Jack and his family down to London again for the Champions League qualifier against Udinese.

And then, when he heard about what was happening to Josh, Wilshere and a friend made the journey up to Scunthorpe and took him to the park to watch him kick a football around.

The kid who beat Josh up was there. His mouth dropped open when he saw him hanging out with the man who is tipped by Alan Shearer to be England captain one day.

Josh had been scared to go back to the park after what had happened to him but since Wilshere’s visit, he’s been heading over there regularly.

“Josh is only 12,” Wilshere says. “No kid should have to endure what he’s been going through. His brother’s brave and he’s brave, too.”

Tracey Marshall finds it hard to express how much gratitude she feels towards Wilshere.

She says she has tried to tell him the difference he has made to their lives but she’s not sure she’s got her message across.

“Josh will come home and say ‘can I give Jack a ring’,” Tracey says. “If Jack’s busy, he’ll explain to him and say he will call him back. And he always calls back. For me, that is a little bit of light in all this darkness.

“Jack Wilshere has done more for us than he will ever know. He has pulled us through many weeks.

“When he invited us to London, he gave us the reason and the means to get out of the house and just have a few days away as a family. I have told him how much it means to us but I’m not sure if he realises properly. I can’t put into words what he has done.

“He chose to do this. He did not have to agree to meet up with us. Seeing a little child very poorly is not easy. He does not have to do it.

“He could have looked away. Some people pretend our Jack is just not there but Jack Wilshere has never done that.

“We have seen Josh come in from school really upset and down because of what’s going on. And then Jack has rung and suddenly he has a massive smile on his face. I can’t do that for him but Jack can.”

Wilshere has a tattoo on his wrist as a tribute to the uncle who was like a brother to him. “James Marshall 1990-2006”, it says.

“The name’s a strange coincidence,” Wilshere says.

Maybe it’s another reason why he has taken the little boy and his family to his heart.

But the truth is the reason doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that an England footballer who didn’t need to help has given comfort to a family who found it where they least expected it.