Leigh Centurions will have a special guest taking out the match ball onto the pitch ahead of the Super 8s Qualifiers game against Hull KR on Saturday (3-15pm). Will Barker is a 15-year-old boy who plays for the Stanningley community club.
A Charity ‘Will’s Way’ has been set up to help Will, with Jamie Peacock MBE, a former Stanningley player, a Patron.
Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont has been closely involved with the Charity and has invited Will and his family including his mum and dad Lisa and Ty to the game as his guests. Derek collects paintings by the hugely talented artist Bob Barker, Will’s Uncle, and successfully bid for a magnificent painting ‘Where There’s A Will’ that Bob commissioned especially for the Charity.
Derek takes up the story: “I recently received my Bob Barker painting ‘Where there’s a Will’ which I successfully bid for in an auction to raise money for Will’s Way, a charity for a young boy who plays rugby and is battling a grade 2 benign brain tumour.
“I have a number of Bob Barker prints as I really like his work it reminds me of my childhood. I even have a piece that is to do with Leeds United football club even though I am a Man United fan but I had never seen any of his work feature rugby.
“That was until my 45th birthday when my wife Laura unveiled a piece that she had commissioned Bob to do that she titled ‘Living the Dream.’ It is of me and Rocky walking down Chadwick Street to the old Hilton Park with the red gates at the bottom and the rugby sticks protruding above and the words ‘Living the Dream’ on the wall, although these were really on the wall near to Leigh East. The piece is very special to me, as it is unique and the original painting and there are no prints of it.
“I also have the sketch of me and Rocky that Bob gave me as a present that was done from a picture Laura gave him which was me and Rocky actually walking to a game at Dewsbury. ‘Where There’s a Will’ is an awesome painting which I share here and is also very special to me and features all the players that have come through Stanningley amateur club to play in Super League including our very own Liam Hood.
“There are a small number of prints of the painting available exclusively from Castle Art Galleries and there is a branch in Deansgate in Manchester where other Bob Barker pieces can also be viewed.
“I am very much looking forward to meeting Will and his family on Saturday and it will be an honour to have them as my guests for the day.”
Will’s dad Ty wrote: “In September 2016, Will was diagnosed with a left Cerebellar Diffused Astrocytoma Grade 2.
“Hearing this news tipped our world upside down, but what was so heart breaking, that with Will being 15 he understood exactly what they were saying and what was involved. (We could not shelter him from the diagnosis). The other thing which was difficult was we had the result but Will is currently well and all the suggested treatments/operation etc to zap the tumour would make him very ill and temporary life changing.
“So the doctors and us have agreed that we will do the ‘watch and wait approach’ and let will live a normal 15 years old life and scans will take place to keep a close eye on things (also any change in his health) until the day we dread and we have to go with the operation and treatment.
“This is why we have set out with raising money on the back of Will’s name, his bravery, strong positive attitude has been amazing for a 15 year facing something like this (even getting himself back on the rugby pitch!). He has got over the biopsy and picked up life where he left off and is now living life to the full (with a brain tumour). We are so proud of him.
“Hopefully with Wills name, we can raise lots of money and help other families who find themselves in similar situations.”