Norwich City’s Steven Whittaker vows to do all he can to honour the memory of an 11-year-old who died of a brain tumour
- Credit: Archant
When Norwich City and Scotland star Steven Whittaker stepped out on to the Hampden Park turf to play Spain three years ago, he didn't need to worry about finding extra motivation to take on the world champions.
That's because he was being escorted on to the field by one of the bravest boys in the United Kingdom.
Jordan Houston, 11, was fighting a terminal brain tumour but had a huge smile on his face, because being a mascot for his country was one of his last wishes.
Jordan died a few months later and the Daily Record, in Scotland, told the story of how his parents had launched a charity to help other families of young cancer patients.
It included a picture of Jordan proudly lined up next to Steven before kick-off.
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As a father himself, when the 29-year-old saw the paper he was so moved that he decided to help the family.
When he made a trip to Scotland, he took time out to visit Jordan's mother, Chloe. He presented her with his shirt from the night.
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He also gave them a cash donation, as well as bags full of football memorabilia to be auctioned off for the Jordan Houston Trust.
Edinburgh-born Steven has also agreed to help out by becoming patron of the charity.
He said: 'That night at Hampden, we were introduced to the mascots.
'I was told Jordan had a brain tumour, so I was talking to him a wee bit and I wanted to make sure he really enjoyed his night.
'It was good to meet him and I remember him being a really nice lad.
'And then I saw his story and read that his family lived in Musselburgh, which is near where I'm from, and I just wanted to help.
'I've got a 13-month-old son, Hayden, and I can't imagine what the family went through.
'They have been incredibly strong and have worked hard to get the charity going, so if there is anything I can do I'd be delighted.
'I turned up at the door for a visit with some stuff – they were over the moon and a bit shocked because they hadn't expected it.
'But it was nice to be able to do something. It was by chance that I was the player who walked out with Jordan.
'I thought it would be nice if they had my jersey as a memory.
'When I heard they were doing charity work and raising money in his name, I managed to get a few things together that might help them raise some money.'
Jordan had been diagnosed aged 10 with an inoperable tumour wrapped around the brain stem.
As his condition got worse, Chloe, 32 and partner Chris Napier, 34, tried to ensure every remaining moment he had was memorable.
He had special VIP visits to Celtic Park and Old Trafford, and met WWE heroes like John Cena.
But the crowning moment was being mascot for the Spain game at Hampden.
His mother said: 'He loved that – he was talking about it for ages before and after.
'It was one of the most amazing days of his life – we were so proud. There was stuff from Celtic, Rangers, Norwich and Scotland, and we couldn't believe it.
'He was so friendly and lovely, and we got a real shock. Steven gave us the Scotland jersey that he wore that night.
'We have Jordan's shirt from that night and we are going to get both of them framed together. We started the charity because we wanted to help families going through the same nightmare.
'We know all the things that can make a difference, whether it's just help with the bills or clothing, or a trip away as a treat.
'Thanks to the money we have raised with Steven's help, we have started to support some families already and that has been great
'We get families referred to us by social workers and we gave some money to a family whose child needed to go to America for treatment, for example, and have helped others with heating bills and mortgage payments.
'I am still grieving for Jordan and this has really helped me deal with everything.
'I want to help others but I also want people to remember Jordan because he was such a lovely boy.
'We asked Steven to be patron – to have him on board is amazing.
'Jordan will be watching down, proud that his football hero not only knows who he is but is helping us help others in his memory.
'Steven is not only Jordan's hero but mine too, a genuine man with a heart of gold.'