CRICKETING legend Sir Ian Botham brought a beaming smile to the face of leukaemia patient Lucas Sutheren as he stepped out on the Sheffield stage of his 160-mile fundraising challenge.
Sir Ian, aged 56, was joined by hundreds of well-wishers and supporters in his walk from Sheffield Town Hall to the Longshaw Estate near Hathersage.
The former England cricket captain is visiting 10 cities between Glasgow and London for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and so far has raised an incredible £25,000 a day in road collections alone.
Lucas, 12, accompanied the veteran fundraiser on part of the walk yesterday, after he was chosen by Sheffield Children’s Hospital to be a charity mascot.
The Kingstone School pupil, from Gawber, Barnsley, said: “It’s really exciting to be walking with Ian Botham.
“The hospital rang my mum and asked if I wanted to be a mascot.
“I went down to Lord’s to meet Ian for the press launch and he was really friendly.
“I’m a cricket fan so it’s really exciting.”
Lucas, whose favourite current cricketer is England opener Alastair Cook, was diagnosed with leukaemia in January 2011 and will be in treatment until 2014.
He said: “At the moment I’m having chemotherapy every day in a tablet form, and going in to Sheffield Children’s Hospital every three weeks.
“The treatment’s going really well, touch wood.”
Sir Ian, who has raised more than £13 million for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research since his first trek in 1985, said: “When I last saw Lucas he had no hair. Now he’s a long-haired lout!
“That’s what it’s all about. This is a kid who is making a great recovery.
“We are doing this for kids like Lucas.
“When we did the first walk 27 years ago there was a 20 per cent chance of survival for children with the most common form of leukaemia - there is now a 93 per cent chance.
“We are doing extremely well and winning the battle.”
Lucas was accompanied by mum Jill, 43, dad Peter, 48, and sister Ellie, 15.
Peter, a HGV driver, said: “We were really honoured that Sheffield Children’s Hospital chose Lucas. We were so proud - it really says so much about Lucas’s personality.”
Hundreds of people joined Sir Ian in his final four miles at the Longshaw Estate. Among then was leukaemia patient Ellie Thompson, nine, from Jordanthorpe.
Her mum Lindsey, 32, said: “There’s a really great atmosphere - it’s a bit cold but the sun is out and everyone is having a great time.”
* VIDEO: Lucas has written a rap video for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, entered as part of Find a Property’s Rap for a Cause competition. To view it press the play button.
The video will get £10,000 for the charity if it gets most voted in an on-line competition. You can vote for it and also view it at rap.findaproperty.com - CLICK HERE.
PRAM MAN IN STEP WITH A LEGEND
VETERAN fundraiser John Burkhill, Sheffield’s own ‘mad man with the pram’, was thrilled to meet fellow charity stalwart Sir Ian Botham as he passed through the city.
Like Sir Ian, John has spent decades walking hundreds of miles to raise money for charity.
John, aged 73, who has raised £150,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support since the death of his wife June, shared a few tips with Sir Ian in front of the Town Hall.
John told The Star: “Beefy’s a great man.
“I met him when we were both doing the London Marathon about five years back and we had a long chat then, so it was really good to see him again.”