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Remembering Benjamin Pritchard 2009-2017

Ben Pritchard
June 16th 2009 – November 6th 2017

On Saturday, Bristol City Football Club and Nottingham Forest Football Club will celebrate the life of Benjamin Pritchard, a City season card holder who sadly passed away last month, aged just eight.

A minute’s applause will take place in the eighth minute.

Ben was a fit and healthy young boy, he was popular, was excelling at Portishead Primary School and loved nothing more than playing football. He played for his local team Portishead Town Sparks, who are flagbearers on Saturday, and filled all his spare time practising his skills.

It was rare to see Ben in anything other than a Bristol City kit and there was very little he didn’t know about the club and every one of the players. As season card holders, Ben and his family rarely missed a match and were at Ashton Gate on May 7th 2017 as City played their last game of the season against Birmingham City.

Later that day, Ben came in from playing in the garden and told his parents, Sarah and Shane, he couldn’t move his arm properly.

He was taken to A&E where tests revealed Ben had a brain tumour. Further tests identified Ben’s tumour as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an extremely rare and aggressive cancer in an area of the brain at the top of the spinal cord which controls everything, including breathing, heart rate, sight and mobility.

It was inoperable, incurable; Shane and Sarah were told that Ben would have ten months to a year to live, at best.

Soon after, Ben was accepted onto a clinical trial in Nottingham and the family moved to Billy’s House, a CLIC Sergeant home from home, where they lived for 12 weeks. During that time, Ben was invited for a tour of Nottingham Forest’s stadium and later to watch the first team training (Ben arrived in full Bristol City kit!).

The Forest squad with Ben - in his City kit!

Danny Fox, Chris Cohen, Mark Warburton and all the staff and players went out of their way to make the family, especially Ben, feel very welcome.

In October, an MRI scan showed Ben’s tumour had spread to other areas of his brain and on to his spine. Two days later he had a huge seizure and after being treated in intensive care at Bristol Children’s Hospital, Ben was transferred to Charlton Farm, one of the three hospices owned by Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW). Ben stayed at Charlton Farm for eight days before passing away on November 6th, aged eight.

Being at Charlton Farm, with its amazing staff in a beautiful setting, meant they were able to just be a family, without worrying about medication, hospital appointments, care needs or chores. It also meant the whole family - including City director and grandad Doug Harman - could spend precious time with Ben following his death.

The end of life support offered by CHSW ensured we were better prepared, well informed and fantastically supported for what is the toughest and worst imaginable situation anyone should have to face. Doing so alone would have been unbearable but thanks to Charlton Farm, the family was never alone.

Despite being very unwell, Ben thoroughly enjoyed his time at Charlton Farm and the family made memories that will last a lifetime. One of which was when Ben was visited by City’s players, Lee Johnson and his coaching team, as well as Danny and Chris from Nottingham Forest, intend to make Saturday’s game a very special one.

The bucket collectors are children from Ben’s class, who are collecting money for CHSW. Shane and Sarah want to use their personal experience to further enhance the amazing facilities at Charlton Farm, in particular for end of life care.

Anyone wishing to donate to Charlton Farm in Ben’s memory can visit Money raised will help support families like theirs, who never thought for a moment that they would need it. #bemoreben

Chris Cohen and Danny Fox meet Ben and sister Freya at the City Ground