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Tributes to bravery of footballer Keith

FANTASTIC LAD ... Keith Hallway, and Jarrow players tribute before the match against Boldon CA, below.

FANTASTIC LAD ... Keith Hallway, and Jarrow players tribute before the match against Boldon CA, below.

hEARTFELt tributes have been paid to a talented footballer who spent the last years of his life bravely battling a debilitating disease.

Keith Hallway was well known in local sporting circles, having played for both Hebburn Town and Jarrow football clubs.

In October 2010, the talented sportsman, known affectionately by friends as ‘Halla’, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, a rapidly progressive neuro-degenerative disorder which leads to the weakness and wasting of muscles, loss of mobility and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

Despite the huge daily struggles, the 38-year-old faced the condition head on.

It was this determination and desire that inspired his family and friends to organise a number of fundraising events in his honour.

Dad-of-one Keith, from Hebburn, lost his battle on November 27. His funeral was held on Thursday at St Cuthbert’s Church in Hebburn, which was followed by interment at Hebburn Cemetery.

After his death, Jarrow boss Peter Kirkham dedicated his team’s derby win against Boldon CA to Keith. Mr Kirkham had known Keith since he was 12 and had played alongside him.

Hebburn Town manager and former team-mate, Scott Oliver, also paid tribute to Keith, who was also a keen golfer and runner.

He said: “I first met Keith when I was 19 at Hebburn and he was coming to train with us. We played together for years at Hebburn.

“He was a fantastic lad and player. He was a bubbly, fun-loving lad, a typical footballer, who stayed positive right to the end.”

Friend Donna Kerr-Foley, who organised an It’s A Knockout event for the past three years in honour of Keith, said: “Keith was known as the party animal, last one standing, joker and just great fun to be around.

“Everyone raised a glass or two to say goodbye. The church was filled with family and friends, and Peter Kirkham said lovely words about how inspirational and brave Keith was. Keith’s brother, Steven, read a beautiful poem by Keith’s daughter, Siniece, which had everyone in tears.

“I hope everyone keeps the momentum we have all created these past three years, going to keep increasing the awareness of MND.

“We will certainly hold another ‘It’s a Knockout’ next year in Keith’s memory.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa

 

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