WATCH: Denver Clinton arrives by helicopter at celebrity charity football match in Dereham
PUBLISHED: 18:30 16 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:26 17 December 2018
Norwich City legends and stars of the boxing ring and Love Island villa lined up to support a brave four-year-old with a rare cancer at a charity football match in Dereham on Sunday.
The family of little Denver Clinton, who is no longer responding to treatment for stage four neuroblastoma, said they were overwhelmed with the support he had received from the community, and celebrities and sports stars from Norfolk and across the country.
Denver, who is set to join boxer Billy Joe Saunders for his ring walk at Manchester arena next Saturday, and his family were flown into Dereham Town FC for the charity match at 3.40pm on Sunday, December 16, in a helicopter arranged by Norfolk businessman Tony Abel.
The family were greeted by famous faces, and players from the two teams taking part in the Denver’s Day: Full of Stars and Smiles match.
Former City stars Grant Holt, Mike Milligan, Robert Fleck and Adrian Coote, and young Norwich players Todd Cantwell and Jamal Lewis joined Norfolk boxers Anthony Ogogo and Herbie Hide, and Love Island contestant Kieran Nicholls, from Ipswich, in lining up to greet poorly Denver as the family touched down on the pitch at Aldiss Park to cheers from the waiting crowds.
Denver’s mother Wanda Clinton, a former pupil at Northgate High School in Dereham, said her son, who had fun running round the pitch kicking the ball with players and throwing punches ahead of the match, was really enjoying the special day.
She said: “He loves anything where people will interact with him - he loves playing.
“It’s lovely how people have pulled together.
“I’d never imagined it. Until this happened I was a single mum with four kids and I just got on with it.”
Paul Sandford, Railway Tavern landlord and Denver’s Day organiser, said the support from the Dereham community for Denver and his family, including brothers Cameron and Lewis, and sister Savannah, had been inspiring.
He said: “I’ve got two little grandsons the same age and its just heart-wrenching.
“His mum is incredible. She’s making the most of every day with the little chap.
“She’s an amazing woman.
And Dean Vann, 31, from Dereham, who has been behind the community’s efforts to support Denver’s family, said: “I think there’s been about £10,000 to £12,000 raised.
“We’ve raised money having a 24-hour box-a-thon last week.
“It’s all for Denver and Wanda and making memories.
“This has gone on all over the country - it’s raising the profile of not only Denver but other kids who are going through it.”
And Canaries players past and present lined up to kick a ball and show their support for the cause, taking part in a match that saw Norwich City All Stars XI pitted against Help Delete Cancer FC, captained by Todd Cantwell’s brother, Jordan Cantwell.
Former Norwich player Robert Fleck, 53, said: “We play a lot of charity games and this is for a cause that’s really worthwhile.”
And legendary Norwich City striker Grant Holt, who enjoyed a kickabout with Denver on the pitch, said it was great to see the support for the Mattishall boy.
He said: “It’s a special game for a special little boy.
“I try and do as many charity matches as I can, and it’s nice to play with some of the lads.
“We all try and do them when we can - you find that in Norwich people will really help out and help each other.”
Former Fakenham Town manager Wayne Anderson said: “It’s all for a lovely lad.
“I’ve got two children and I’ve lost family to cancer myself. It’s heartbreaking.
“Getting everyone here today is unbelievable.”
And Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell, from Dereham, who was joined by teammate Jamal Lewis on the sidelines, watched his dad Steve and sister Amber join the Help Delete Cancer side on the pitch.
He described Saturday’s match against Bristol as tough but said: “I joined Norwich when I was 10 years old.
“Playing in the first team is a dream come true.”
While former heavyweight world champion boxer Herbie Hide said: “I had a brother who died of cancer years ago, and my heart goes out to the whole family.
“I’ve been there myself.”
And semi-retired boxer and former strictly star Anthony Ogogo said: “I can’t play today but I’m going to be the assistant manager.
“All the manager can do is set the team up.
“I got asked to help out and I wasn’t supposed to be here but I wasn’t going to miss this for anything.”