Reece Winterbottom: Friends rally in memory of Sheffield boy whose cancer battle touched city's hearts

Friends of a much-loved Sheffield boy who lost his battle with cancer have united to ensure his memory lives on.

By Robert Cumber
Friday, 24th June 2022, 8:22 am

Reece Winterbottom, from Beighton, was just seven when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012 –only six months after losing his mum Kirsty to skin cancer.

His positive attitude throughout his long fight against the disease endeared the football-mad Sheffield United fan to people across the city and beyond, including Blades players and Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, whom he got the chance to meet.

Reece, who attended Westfield School and played football for the Killamarsh Dynamos, sadly died in May last year, aged 16, at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

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Reece Winterbottom was a big Sheffield United fan and got to meet the players just a few weeks before he died

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Just over one year on, two of his best friends, Blake Simmonite and Liam Butcher, have teamed up with their families to celebrate his life and raise money for two charities close to Reece’s heart.

Reece’s Day will take place at Beighton Welfare Recreation Ground on Saturday, July 30.

It will kick off from midday with the Reece’s Cup football tournament, and there will be family fun throughout the day, including games, stalls, a bouncy castle, food and a raffle with the chance to win tickets for Disney on Ice at Sheffield Utilita Arena.

Inspirational Sheffield youngster Reece Winterbottom, who sadly lost his cancer battle aged 16, with one of his best friends, Blake Simmonite, who has helped set up the Reece's Day memorial fundraising event at Beighton Welfare Recreation Ground on Saturday, July 30

‘It means everything’, says Reece’s dad

In the evening, there will be an after party, including live entertainment and an auction with prizes including football match tickets and a TV. Tickets, priced £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s, are available by contacting Leanne Simmonite or Sarah Butcher via Facebook.

As well as celebrating Reece’s short but inspirational life, the day will raise vital funds for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, for whose ‘outstanding’ care Reece’s family are forever grateful, and Brain Tumour Research.

Reece’s dad, David, said: “Blake, Liam and Reece were great friends and had faced many of life's challenges with each other by their side.

“It means everything that they and their families have come together to make this happen, with amazing support from the community, to help keep Reece’s legacy alive.

“It’s still very difficult. He’s missed every minute of every day but events like this help remind us how Reece touched the hearts of so many people, because he was such a kind and loving child.”

David said it was impossible to thank everybody who had helped to make Reece’s Day possible but as well as Blake, Liam and their families, he wanted to give special mentions to Jill Roberts at Beighton Welfare Recreation Ground and to Kes of Showtime Discos in Chesterfield.

Reece had been given the all-clear during his cancer battle but a routine check-up in 2020 revealed that the tumour had returned and this time was malignant and a rare, very aggressive form of cancer.

He got the chance to meet Sheffield United players and step onto the pitch at Bramall Lane a few weeks before he died.