A nine year old cancer survivor has had his dream come true when he stepped on to the pitch at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal’s mascot on Sunday.
Gunners fan Samuel Van Emden of Shenley was delighted when he learnt that he would be going before the 60,000 capacity stadium for the football club’s Emirates Cup clash against Olympique Lyonnais. Samuel, who attends Radlett Preparatory School, has undergone four years of treatment for cancer at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Watford General Hospital. In that time, the youngster and his family have received significant support from Camp Simcha, a charity for Jewish families with children who have life threatening or life changing conditions.
Samuel is the first child to be invited to be an Arsenal Football Club mascot through the Mayor of Hertsmere. As part of our sports partnership with the club, the borough’s Mayor will be able to nominate a child to be a mascot once every year.
Samuel’s mother Charlie, speaking before the match, said: “My husband has always supported Arsenal and Samuel is a fan too, but we didn’t want to take him to games when he was in treatment, because being in crowds would have been dangerous for him. This is only the second time he will have been at the stadium. He is so excited."
She added after the match that Samuel had had the 'time of his life' and got to meet his favourite player, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Mayor of Hertsmere, Councillor Rabbi Alan Plancey whose chosen charity for the year is Camp Simcha, said: “I’m just delighted that Samuel has had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the team he loves.
“Camp Simcha is a brilliant organisation and one that is very close to my heart. They help brighten the lives of children and families like Samuel’s, who are facing what for most people would represent their worst fears.
“It also is thrilling to know that through Hertsmere Borough Council’s highly successful sports partnership with Arsenal, we will be able to offer this opportunity to other children in the future.
“Hertsmere has enjoyed a brilliant working relationship with Arsenal for many years now, in which we’ve been able to deliver a huge range of activities and programmes for young people in the borough.”
Neville Goldschneider, Chief Executive at Camp Simcha, said: “Camp Simcha’s mission is to support all Jewish families with a range of serious childhood illnesses.
“We were here for Samuel and his family when they faced years of gruelling treatment for cancer. Samuel and his sister Ella particularly enjoyed our art classes, outings and our family retreats which brought some much needed fun and family time to them all.
“We’re glad that with the help of our Honorary Patron Rabbi Plancey and Arsenal Football club, we could bring some more smiles to Samuel.”
Posted on Monday 29th July 2019