Emergency services workers are preparing to clash on the rugby pitch to raise money which will help a poorly child.
The North West Ambulance Service will be taking on Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in a rugby league match at Aspull RU this Sunday at 2.30pm.
Otis Roscoe, the eight-month-old son of Wigan fire station watch manager Jon, has a rare liver disease called biliary atresia, which causes bile to become blocked within the organ.
In the first five months of his life, Otis had a nine-hour operation to have his gallbladder removed and to attach part of his bowel to his liver to help increase the flow of bile, but that was not successful and he is now waiting for a liver transplant.
And in a bid to raise funds for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation and the North West Air Ambulance, Tony Baldwin of the Wigan Training Company and RL legend Andy Gregory have joined forces to stage the match.
“The cost of treatment is massive, and the care needed will take Otis into early adulthood,” explained Baldwin.
“He had an operation at five weeks of age nad now at eight months he is waiting for a liver transplant.
“That will be on the NHS but the aftercare will be for the rest of his life.
“Greg and I work together with Wigan Training Company and Andy Gregory Associates, and we decided to grab hold of it, run with organising this game and promote it.”
As well as Gregory, Wigan RL legend Henderson Gill will be in attendance at the match as well as current Warriors players to meet and greet supporters, and there is also a planned Q&A
on the day with Gregory, Gill and Warriors coach Shaun Wane.
“From our point of view, when we saw it we both jumped on it,” said Baldwin, a former amateur RL player.
“It isn’t just for Otis, but for other children in his boat.”
The organisers hope to raise £5,000, which will be split between the charities, with Santander bank agreeing to boost money raised on the day.
On the decision to include the North West Air Ambulance, Baldwin said: “When I’ve been talking to staff at the Air Ambulance, it is clear that without it, hospital staff couldn’t do anything with a lot of people they help because of travel time. The day is about people turning up and making a donation.”
Ian Fitzhenry, red watch manager at Wigan Fire Service, will be lacing up his boots to play rugby for the first time in nearly a decade.
“There will be some sore bodies the morning after the game,” the 40-year-old joked.
“I played for St Judes, and they have been kind enough to loan us a kit to use for the game, and an organiser used to be on the committee at Aspull, so they kindly agreed to stage the game and have been very helpful.”
Fundraising has already started, with Wigan Athletic players donating £400 and a signed shirt to be part of the raffle prizes on the day, which will include other attractions as well as the rugby match.
To donate, visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/firevambulance