Simon Wilkes chosen by Birmingham FA as ambassador with charity partner Anthony Nolan21 Jun. 2022
The Birmingham Football Association has just announced their collaboration with our amazing ambassador Simon Wilkes and charity partner Anthony Nolan. Simon will be working with the FA to increase the number of people registered as a Stem Cell donor across the West Midlands and Warwickshire using Grassroots Football as a stimulus for individual recruitment. This is fantastic news for the Wilkes family.
'Words can't explain what all this means to me, I never thought in a million years I would get the story this far...so excited to get this off the ground and potentially save lives' - Simon Wilkes.
Simon is an MDS patient himself and he and his wife Lynn and son Ben have supported MDS UK for many years. Read more about Simon's own patient experience here: https://mdspatientsupport.org.uk/mds-stories/simon-wilkes-hopefully-so-many-lives-will-be-saved/
Simon and his family are also fervent supporters of Anthony Nolan, organising stem cell donor recruitment drives in their local area, using his network as a football coach.
The Anthony Nolan Charity aims to increase the number of people signed up to the Stem Cell Donor Register. across the UK. There are currently 880,000 individuals nationwide that are signed up.
The Wilkes family had been involved in Grassroots Football for 22 years, before tragedy struck in 2017 when their son Olly passed away. Their last day together as a family was at a charity event, 11 days prior to Olly's passing and they were raising funds for two chosen charities, MDS UK and Anthony Nolan. Since Olly’s passing, many of his friends and family have signed up to the Stem Cell Donor Register.
Matt Beveridge, stem cell donor
After joining the register, one of Olly's friends, Matt Beveridge had the call from Anthony Nolan as he was found to be a match. Matt Beveridge was a local hero, his story was featured in the local press and on local radio. Matt's Anthony Nolan story is on the video below. He was later to find out he had saved the life of a young Spanish woman.
The Wilkes family made a decision to organise memorial events as a legacy to 'Our Olly' in heaven. The first Olly Wilkes Memorial Football Tournament was organised for 19 May 2018 with the Anthony Nolan recruitment team attending. This resulted in a further 52 people signing up to the stem cell register.
Driven by the need to raise awareness of MDS, and stem cell donations, Simon, along with family and friends & their beloved "Withymoor Colts Family" continue to organise events like these.
Due to COVID, the event was postponed several times – but The Olly Wilkes Football Tournament will finally go ahead on 25th June 2022. This event is very special and a further legacy to their son Olly. Funds raised for the tournament will be divided between MDS UK, the Lily Mae Foundation and Withymoor Colts RE-UNION.
Simon and the committee organising this special event are looking for anyone able to support it with gifts for the Grand Raffle, Memorabilia Auction, tombola or any other ways to assist. Any enquiries - please contact Simon via Ashleigh Venables at firstname.lastname@example.org, or direct to email@example.com
The Wilkes family thank Ikuto Group Ltd for their sponsor!
For more on the Birmingham FA collaboration see birminghamfa.com