Jodie’s surprise football celebration

A young Barnsley woman has had an unforgettable 21st birthday thanks to the town’s football club and Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

Jodie Barlow, who visits the South Yorkshire children’s hospice for care, had a birthday to remember after Bluebell Wood got in touch with Barnsley FC to see if the players could help to make her day extra special.

As big Barnsley fans who used to regularly attend matches, Jodie and her mum Julie had been delighted when some of the players had brought a signed shirt to Bluebell Wood at the end of last year. When Jodie’s birthday was approaching, the charity contacted the club to see if the players could sign her birthday card.

Julie and Jodie popped into the Oakwell stadium, along with Julie’s cousin and season ticket holder Karen Darbyshire. When they arrived they were greeted by player Angus MacDonald who handed the card to Jodie in person.

Julie said: “Jodie has been too poorly to attend matches, so for us to go there ourselves was brilliant. Angus was really lovely with Jodie and asked if she’d like to see inside the stadium. He also gave her a Toby Tyke teddy, which was her favourite toy when she was younger but she’d lost it. This was such a special, unexpected surprise. Jodie cannot speak but she was smiling and happy and I am sure she knew where she was.

“Jodie has a very rare syndrome called San Filipo A, which means that her body cannot get rid of all the waste products in her cells. Bluebell Wood helps to improve the life that Jodie has. We can’t cure her, but we can make as many wonderful moments for her as possible. You would never think that staying in a hospice is brilliant, but it is.”

Barnsley player Angus MacDonald said: “It was a huge honour to meet Jodie to wish her happy birthday from everyone at Barnsley Football Club. We first learned about her when some of the players visited Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice before Christmas. Jodie was there at the time receiving treatment and being cared for by the staff. Her mum explained that she used to follow the Club avidly before she became ill, so when we learned about her upcoming 21st birthday we wanted to show our appreciation to her as she celebrated her big day. We hope that she enjoyed being back at Oakwell and hopefully we’ve been able to put a big smile on her face.

“We’re proud to support Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, which works immensely hard to support children in Barnsley who need specialist support. Many people aren’t aware that the hospice covers the Barnsley area, so I’d encourage all our fans to get behind it whenever they can.”

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