Didcot dad takes on celebrities in charity football fundraiser

Fred Swanborough with his son Freddie, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, holding a shirt signed by celebrities ahead of the big match Picture: OX66688 Greg Blatchford

Fred Swanborough with his son Freddie, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, holding a shirt signed by celebrities ahead of the big match Picture: OX66688 Greg Blatchford Buy this photo

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A DAD whose dreams of footballing stardom were thwarted by injury will tackle a host of celebrities in a charity match.

Fred Swanborough’s six-year-old son Freddie was first diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that causes breathing problems, when he was seven months old.

Now keen player Mr Swanborough will tackle famous faces, including former Labour press spokesman Alastair Campbell and TV presenter Angus Deayton, to help sufferers like his son.

The 32-year-old dad played youth football for Milton United and Didcot Labour Club until he was 15, when he suffered a knee injury.

Mr Swanborough, of Didcot, said: “It’s good to play against the celebrities.

“Most of my life I was a keen footballer. But about 17 years ago, I had a serious injury and they had to repair every tendon in my right knee.”

Supermarket worker Mr Swanborough will play a packed team of celebrities, including Angus Deayton, the British high jumper Dalton Grant, Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, former Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish and Olympic rowing champion Mark Hunter at Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club.

It is hoped the football match will raise £1,500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

He said: “It’s every boy’s dream to play at a Premier League site.

“In 2008, my son was in hospital when he was seven months old.

“I came away from the hospital and said I was going to do some fundraising.

Herald Series:

  • Former Labour press spokesman Alastair Campbell, right, gets to grips with East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy at last year's charity match

“I found this football match online. As a cystic fibrosis supporter I had never played it before, and so I decided to have a go. This will be my fifth time.”

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Baby Freddie was one of the first at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital to be diagnosed with the Heel Prick test, which involves taking a blood sample from a newborn baby’s heel.

The Manor School pupil has been in hospital three times in six years.

He also needs to have regular check-ups to keep an eye on his condition.

Mr Swanborough, husband to Erin, said: “I had never heard of cystic fibrosis before Freddie was diagnosed.

Herald Series:

  • High jumper Dalton Grant proves he’s game for a laugh with Sheffield MP Clive Betts, at last year's event

“I had friends from school who had taken the tests, but I didn’t know what they had. As a kid you don’t take any notice or interest in it – it didn’t affect me.

“Obviously it is good to get involved with research, or people need to get involved.”

The couple now fundraise regularly for the charity with Freddie’s older brother Jordan, 13 and sister Kayleigh, nine.

Each player in next month’s match has to raise £1,000 to take part. But Mr Swanborough hopes to raise more, adding: “I always try and do a little bit more. I am trying to raise £1,500 this year.”

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust will celebrate its 50 year this year.

Nearly 100,000 people across the UK suffer from the illness Mr Swanborough will play for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust XI in the annual Nicky’s Whisper charity match, which was set up in memory of the charity’s former patron Nicky West, who died from cystic fibrosis.

The match will be held on Tuesday, May 13.

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