Family and friends rally round football coach Jeff

Joanna and Jeff
Joanna and Jeff

The name of Jeff Flitcroft is one to be reckoned with in Longridge.

He was the best pizza maker in town at Pizza Pie on Berry Lane and a councillor for Ribble Valley borough.

As a champion of footballers in the county, he was development coach across 14 seasons for Manchester United and trained 16 to 18 year olds at Myerscough College seeing them gain the English College championship last year.

And currently, he runs a Saturday soccer club for five to 11 year olds in Bolton.

Jeff has seen many battles on the soccer field. Now he faces his own - against cancer for the second time and this time battling the onset of cancer of the oesophagus.

But where he has rallied to boost his soccer teams, his family team of wife Elaine and daughters Joanna and Jade plus many relatives and friends, are now rallying to help him raise funds for cancer charities.

Joanna, 29, and 25-year-old Jade have already raised £1,600 and are both about to add more by joining in the national Sport Relief One event on Sunday.

With other participants, they are swimming 50, 25-metre lengths in Jeff’s name at Fulwood Leisure Centre.

“I am absolutely thrilled by my family’s strength of support, and by the generosity of the wonderful people of Longridge,” said Jeff, who is 59.

“I have been poorly since the age of 50 but have managed to do what I’ve wanted to because Elaine, my absolute rock, has always been there for me.”

And, as well both daughters joining the Sport Relief event, Joanna is to take swim the Windermere Open Mile contest in June to raise more funds for Jeff.

He is also to make his Pizza Pie persona ‘reappear’ complete with baked potatoes and coleslaw at a summer entertainment fundraiser at Longridge Civic Hall.

Although still in the pipeline, bumper raffle prizes are already guaranteed in the shape of a Wayne Rooney t-shirt with its authentic certificate, and a weekend break in the Lake District.

“I’m hoping more local traders will help me out on this one as the charities I’m supporting are Rosemere and Macmillan Nurses,” Jeff added.

So watch this space for results and to donate, go to the Sport Relief page on the internet and log on to ‘Joanna Bamber’ for details.