A day to remember at Wembley Stadium for dedicated Lowestoft fund-raiser

Mike Willgoss (left) with Steve Pocock- General Manager of Johnstone's Paint and Greg Clarke- Chairm

Mike Willgoss (left) with Steve Pocock- General Manager of Johnstone's Paint and Greg Clarke- Chairman of The Football League. - Credit: Archant

A fund-raiser from Lowestoft, who has raised over £54,000 for a men's cancer charity, has been given a day to remember at Wembley Stadium.

Mike Willgoss, 76 of Bishops Walk, was the guest of honour at the recent match between Bristol City and Walsall in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.

To mark his achievement, Mr Willgoss, who was accompanied to the game by his wife Joy, had his name in the programme and got to walk on the pitch to meet the players- all in front of 72,500 fans. He was also treated to half and full-time hospitality on the top table.

Mr Willgoss was inspired to start fundraising after being diagnosed with prostate cancer – having made a full recovery from breast cancer just three years earlier.

It was his experience of battling what he describes as the big 'c' word and his desire to meet new people that inspired his dedicated fundraising initiative for Prostate Cancer UK.

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Mr Willgoss started by organising a calendar in 2011 featuring players, staff and club officials of Lowestoft Town FC; posing for some risqué photos in the town. It sold thousands of copies – with more than £12,500 raised from this initiative alone.

With the support of his wife Joy, and a team of helpers including Ray Durrant, Rae Mullender, Terry Dean and Graham Walpole, he has organised bucket collections at stores across Suffolk and Norfolk – raising thousands of pounds in the process.

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Mr Willgoss was particularly surprised when the Prostate Cancer charity contacted him to say his achievement deserved recognition.

'It was unbelievable that I was asked to be the guest of honour and I am still taken back by occasion,' he said.

'On the day the noise was deafening; it tingles up your spine.

'It really was a day to remember.'

It was then that Mr Willgoss and his wife were chatting over dinner that they came across Andrew Cullen- the Chief Executive Director of MK Dons and on the board of the Football League.

It turns out that Mr Cullen was in the same class as Mr Willgoss' son- also called Andrew- who tragically died after a flying piece of debris hit him at a stock car meeting in Ipswich when he was a teenager.

'You start to chat to people around you and my wife asked the chap near us where he came from.

'He said he was born in Lound and Joy knew people who played bowls there.

'He then said he attended Denes High school and it turned out he was in the same class as my son. It really took us back and out of 72,500 people in the ground, we managed to speak to him.'

After enjoying his once in a lifetime experience, Mr Willgoss, who also has one daughter, will continue his fundraising efforts of which he is extremely proud.

He has also announced that the Norman Warrior pub will be supporting the Prostate Cancer cause at their annual beer festival on Bank Holiday Monday.

Mark Bishop, Director of Fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: 'Through four fantastic years of fundraising Mike has raised a staggering £54,000 for Prostate Cancer UK, while showing his support for Men United, a movement for everyone who believes men are worth fighting for.

'That dedication and passion for the charity made him an obvious choice to become our guest of honour at Wembley for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final and I know he really enjoyed the occasion.'

If you would like to donate. visit: www.prostatecanceruk.org.

Do you know someone who makes a difference in the community? Email: joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk

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