A diehard Sheffield Wednesday supporter has proved that cancer really does have no colours – by having a tattoo of arch rivals United’s club badge on his chest.
Kevin Ryder, from Shiregreen, proposed the idea to encourage donations to a fund raising campaign for teenage Blades fan Imogen Ellis, who is battling a rare form of bone cancer and had her right leg amputated from the knee down.
The 16-year-old schoolgirl contracted Ewing sarcoma last year – a condition that affects fewer than 30 children in the UK a year.
Inspired by Imogen’s courage, family and friends are looking to raise £15,000 for a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg and Kevin hopes to boost the total after putting derby rivalry to one side and getting in the tattooists’ chair.
“I don’t really know Imogen personally,” 29-year-old Kevin told The Star.
“A pal of mine, Steve Richards, organised a sponsored walk for her, from Bramall Lane to Chesterfield. And when we finished, Imogen presented a medal to me and it made my day.
“I remember thinking, ‘I wish there was something else I could do’. And when I was taking care of my daughter, watching her play and run about, it made me think that if it was her in that situation, it would break my heart.
“So I took it upon myself and thought, ‘what can I do that’s insanely stupid, but helpful?’ So I thought of this idea."
Kevin, father to five-year-old daughter Ebony-Faith and nine-year-old son Finley, was inked at Lab13 studio in Attercliffe on Tuesday.
“The tattoo was just something outrageous, that not many people would have the bottle to do,” he added.
“But what is a bit of ink compared to what the poor girl has to go through on a daily basis?”
Brave Imogen, a keen horse-rider, hockey and netball player before her illness, has said: “NHS legs are good but my parents want the best you can possibly get, I think it is their way of helping me get over it.
“I was a really sporty person and then I started to get aches in my knee.
“I have been trying to carry on as normal as possible, throughout it all.
“Some days I do have my down days. But I try to carry on doing things that I did before."