Ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup third round derby match, Manchester’s two Barclays Premier League clubs have come together in support of a young family devastated by a house fire.
Manchester City centre-half Joleon Lescott and Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley met 18-year old Cailin Van Straaten and four-year old Zach Jones at United’s Carrington training ground on Friday morning.
The children lost their mother Tracy and 15-year old brother Shaun in a fire at their home in Broadheath in September 2011. Tracy’s former partner, David Potts, also died in the blaze. Cailin suffered 60 per cent burns in the incident and remains in hospital receiving daily treatment; Zach received 20 per cent burns and visits hospital four times a week to have his wounds dressed and to help to manage his pain.
As well as losing their mother and brother, Cailin and Zach lost all their belongings in the fire. Greater Manchester Police have set up a Justgiving page for anyone wishing to make a donation to help give the family a new start in life. Please visit www.justgiving.com/gmp.
Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts said: “This is a tremendous gesture by both clubs, and for them to do this just before their big FA Cup match shows that they appreciate some things are more important than football. Zach and Cailin have been affected by an absolutely tragic case, which robbed them of a mother and brother.
"The police officers who dealt with this, and the people in Broadheath, were touched immensely after it became apparent that the tragedy also left them with nothing for the future. Officers have launched an appeal to raise money which will help them in the future, and the success of that appeal has been fantastic.”
Joleon Lescott said: “Meeting Cailin and Zach today was a genuinely humbling experience. For two such young people to suffer such tremendous loss and injury is truly heartbreaking and it is credit to their mother and brother’s memory that they have kept going.
"Despite our obvious rivalry, we were very happy to team up with United today to help shine a light on the fundraising efforts on the family’s behalf and we would urge fans of both