Heswall FC will celebrate the life of local hero Danny De Brabander by renaming their ground in his honour.
De Brabander, the leader of Team DDB which raised money for those living with cancer, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2019.
In that time De Brabannder raised an incredible sum of over £135,000.
It’s back! The annual #BowelCancerAwareness game and family fun day …❤️ really hope I can be there 🤞🏼This one means a lot to me, as it was the first ever event I did in 2019 and had been a regular each year – please come down and support it x pic.twitter.com/baQakfUUoq
The boyhood Manchester United fan would occasionally attend weekend matches at Heswall’s Gayton Park. Following his diagnosis, he reached out to chairman Robbie Matthews to discuss hosting charity matches at the club.
Matthews was all too happy to assist, with proceeds from the subsequent games donated to charities such as The Paul Lavelle Foundation.
Matthews admitted to being taken aback by the endeavour of the 42-year-old.
He said: “I found it unreal. When he was in such poor health, to think that he thought of others in that way was mind-blowing for me really.”
On this week's episode of Taking Care of Business, @PaulCKSedulo sits down with a man who has been told on 3 separate occasions that he has terminal bowel cancer with potentially just months to live. However, Danny de Brabander continues to defy statistics over 3 years later. pic.twitter.com/EXDpGupqZy
Matthews was never going to turn down the offer to host the charity games. Indeed, he felt that De Brabander’s asking of the question was testament to the man’s selfless character.
“He came across as a really sincere, warm and genuine person,” Matthews said.
“It was something we felt, as a club, that we would be happy to support and help with”.
The Heswall chairman said DeBrabander “did an incredible job at bringing ex-pros and celebrities together,”
He added: “They were always fantastic events with a good crowd in attendance. They were brilliant occasions, and the games were always played in the right spirit”.
The fixtures not only propelled De Brabander into local headlines, but proved beneficial for Heswall residents.
Matthews explained: “You look at what’s going on in your area, the different initiatives.
When you see something right on your doorstep that’s driven by such an incredible cause, you cannot help but be inspired by that.”
When the news broke of DeBrabander’s death on Monday 9 October, it left the community in a state of shock. Matthews felt it fitting to pay tribute by renaming Heswall’s Gayton Park ground in his honour.
He said: “It was the right thing for us to do. We wanted to ensure that Danny himself was remembered, but also that his charity – Team DDB – was given the exposure it needs to continue to raise awareness of bowel cancer.
“I’d like to think that this one little gesture from the club has played a part in helping the charity – keeping it alive, keeping it going.
“It’s also nice that the family knows that there is a place named in his honour in recognition of what he has done for the community.”
No discussions over future charity matches have yet taken place, but Matthews is ruling nothing out.
He said: “The club would certainly be willing to continue to support any of the causes that Danny (De Brabander) championed.
“It’s maybe something we’ll talk about between now and the end of the season with a view to putting something on in the summer. Anything the family would like us to consider, we’ll look into.”
There will be many in attendance on Sunday but Matthews said it will be a great ‘celebration’ of “our Danny” who he described as “our mate,”
He said: “The day will show the affect that Danny has had on people, from those who benefitted from his charity work to those who just knew him as a person.”
“It will be nice for everyone to remember not only what he did but who he was.”