Young Norwich Rugby Club player chosen as England rugby team mascot
- Credit: ANDY MICKLETHWAITE
A young sports fan will meet his idols after being chosen as a mascot for the England international rugby team.
Josh Lacey, nine, who lives on the Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, will walk out with the professional players at London's Twickenham Stadium for their clash with Argentina on November 11.
The youngster, who has played for Norwich Rugby Club's Under 10s team for two years, has the rare genetic condition cone-rod dystrophy meaning he is severely sight impaired in both eyes.
Norwich Rugby Club's vice-captain Chris Parrott contacted England hooker Jamie George asking for Josh to be mascot and the good news was delivered by video message by the international player.
Josh's mother, Jennifer Lacey, 33, a dinner lady at Swanton Morley Primary School where her son attends, said: 'Josh was shocked when he found out the news. When it sunk in he was excited. He is a bit nervous about walking in front of everyone at Twickenham.
'I will feel very proud when I watch. It is an experience for him and he will remember it even if his sight fails further. He will have memories, which is the most important thing.'
She described her son as 'pretty resilient'.
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Despite his sight problems, the nine-year-old trains at the Norwich Rugby Club on North Walsham Road every Sunday and plays in home matches because he is familiar with the layout of the pitch.
Josh's team coach, Mark Loveday, said: 'He has massive determination and tenacity despite his condition and is a key part of our team. His team-mates are understandably delighted.'
The youngster has played rugby since he was five and watches the club's 1st XV team practice every week.
Mrs Lacey added: 'Josh's dad is really into rugby. Originally Josh did it as father and son bonding activity but now he enjoys being around other children his own age and enjoys the sport.'
The youngster's father, Jason Lacey, 37, an armed forces chef, coaches the Norwich Rugby Club 2nd XV team.
Signs of Josh's condition first came to light in September 2015 when he struggled to read whiteboards at school.
He now relies on his peripheral vision, which will worsen over time, and is learning braille.