Yesterday, Jermain Defoe was honoured for his positivity and commitment away from the football pitch at the North East Football Writers’ Association’s annual awards night.
Defoe attended the event to receive the North East Personality of the Year trophy, a special award given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to recognise someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community.
The player’s relationship with young cancer patient, Bradley Lowery, caught the hearts of the whole nation and helped raise awareness of neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer which affects less than 100 children in the UK each year.
Bradley was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at just 18-months-old and last year his mum, Gemma Lowery, shared the devastating news that the cancer was terminal. Bradley passed away in July surrounded by his family and friends.
Gemma presented Defoe with the trophy and the pair received a standing ovation.
“Not everyone gets to meet their heroes or spend so much time with them,” Gemma began.
“The fact that Bradley was able to have those special memories with Jermain, and that we have them too, forever, is really special.”
Jermain also spoke upon receiving the award.
“I’ve said to Gemma that I’ll do whatever I can do to continue to support her family.
“Like this night, I just had to be here. To be honest, it’s a little bit strange receiving an award for something you do purely from the goodness of your heart. You don’t think about getting an award for it.
“Even when I walk around Tesco people come up to me, probably who haven’t even watched football before, and they know me because of my relationship with Bradley. I’ve even had messages from people in Australia.
“So the awareness that little Brad raised is quite phenomenal really.”
Held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham, the North East Football Writers' Association Awards night, sponsored by William Hill, celebrates the best of North East football. The event, once again, raised funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which helps find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
The charity recently made a £1 million contribution to fund clinical research and nursing posts at the new Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre at Newcastle University.