FAMILY, friends and former teammates of a tragic teenage footballer from South Tyneside came together to pay an emotional tribute to a young man with a “heart of gold”.
Aaron Todd, of Kirkstone Avenue, Jarrow, died at the age of just 18 from serious head injuries in hospital – six days after he fell out of a taxi and hit his head in Hedworth Lane, on March 29, 2009.
An all-day fundraising tribute event was held in his honour at Jarrow’s Perth Green Community Association on Saturday.
Cash raised from the event will go to the intensive care unit at Newcastle General Hospital, where Aaron was treated in the days before his death.
The day included a match between two of the teams Aaron played for, Jarrow FC, of the Wearside League and Robertson Scaffolding, of the Sunday Morning League.
There was also an appearance from another of the teenager’s teams, Leam Rangers, also of the Wearside League.
Aaron’s mum Karen Rutter and his brothers Ronnie and Peter were among those cheering on the teams.
The players wore shirts bearing Aaron’s name and held a minute’s applause before kicking off the game and bidding to become the inaugural winners of the Aaron Todd Memorial Shield.
It is hoped that the match will become an annual event.
Other activities during the charity extravaganza included raffles, a bouncy castle, vans selling ice cream and hot dogs, a penalty shoot-out and live music in the evening at the community centre, with the whole day of celebrations taking place between 11am and midnight.
Organiser Chris Thompson, Aaron’s former coach, said: “I coached him at under-13 and under-16 level and he was a fantastic lad.
“He was a cheeky chappie with a heart of gold who would do anything for you.
“It was such a tragedy that we lost him so early.”