Football fan Bethany Smith had a Christmas to remember after enjoying some festive gaming fun with Chelsea and England hero Mason Mount.
The 11-year-old, who receives care and support from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), was one of four lucky youngsters invited to take part by the charity Together for Short Lives.
Mount is the Together for Short Lives patron and his gaming session was streamed via Twitch on Christmas Eve. It is being released on YouTube at 6pm tonight (Thursday, 6th January).
“It was a great experience,” said Bethany’s dad, Steve.
“Bethany was very excited beforehand as she’s been following Mason’s career since last year’s European Championships.
“They had lots of banter. It was very competitive but always in a very fun, jovial way.
“Mason was so down to earth and interacted with the children brilliantly, just like they were little brothers and sisters.
“He was very humble and caring and it was lovely to see.
“You could tell he really wanted to do something positive and special, making a real difference to these children.
“Bethany absolutely loved it and was on a real high afterwards.”
The pair played Mario Party on a Nintendo Switch and the special opportunity was organised and run in collaboration with Combat Gaming.
Now Bethany – who, along with her dad, is a season-ticket holder at Norwich City – is looking forward to Mount and Chelsea’s visit to Carrow Road on 19th March. Ironically, it is a week after her 12th birthday.
Bethany, who also received a signed photo and personalised Christmas card, has Mitochondrial Myopathy.
This is a life-limiting condition that affects her muscles and energy levels, meaning she uses a wheelchair.
However, she doesn’t let anything hold her back and has even competed in Powerchair football with England Powerchair captain Jon Bolding.
The Smith family, who live in Cringleford, receive support at The Nook, EACH’s hospice in Framingham Earl, just outside Norwich.
Mount said he and Bethany were the “dream team”.
He added: “I’ve played against some incredible opponents in my career, but these are the ultimate VIPs and they really gave me a run for my money!
“It was great to combine two of my passions – gaming and Together for Short Lives.
“I’m so pleased to have been a part of some special new family memories for the children I met. Hopefully the stream helps raise vital funds and awareness for this important charity.”
Michelle Briggs, EACH Service Manager at The Nook, said: “What a wonderful and very fun opportunity for Bethany.
“I know how much this meant to her and how much she enjoyed the experience of meeting and gaming with one of her heroes.
“I’m sure it’s something she’ll never forget.”
To watch the gaming session, click here.