A terminally-ill teenager from South Tyneside has defied the odds to become an ambassador to his favourite football team.
Ewan Barry, had no idea when he took part in work-experience at Newcastle United, he would one day become one of the faces of their latest campaigns.
‘United As One’ aims to end discrimination and inequality in football and society and improve social inclusion in the sport by linking the club’s work in the fields of diversity, inclusion and welfare under one banner.
The 19-year-old, from Lindisfarne Road, Jarrow, who relies heavily on his family to carry out everyday tasks, was chosen to feature as part of the club’s advertising campaign.
He joins seven other supporters as a United As One ambassador - and former striker Shola Ameobi, current captain Jamaal Lascelles and midfielder Ki Sung-yueng.
The position is a dream come true for football fan Ewan, who as a youngster was an active player.
He was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia at the age of seven - a condition which causes progressive damage to the nervous system - which eventually left him wheelchair bound.
Ewan, also has cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease and scoliosis, causing his spine to curve.
Over the years, the teenager has fought back against the disease and has continued, despite his disabilities, to be active in the world of sport - taking part in athletics competitions and even going back to football.
He currently plays for Newcastle United’s disability football team at the Percy Hedley Foundation, which provides support to Ewan and his family. Ewan said: “I felt great when they asked me. It’s an honour.”
His proud mum Lisa Davenport said: “Ewan loves football. He was a brilliant goalkeeper and I can’t put into words what it means for him to have been chosen to be an ambassador for Newcastle United.
“He had been on work placement at the club, and they had approached us through the Percy Hedley Foundation, as they were so impressed by his work and his character.
“It is just a huge thing for us all.”
Last year, Ewan’s family thought they were going to lose him after his condition took a turn for the worse.
His family had previously been told, he would be lucky to survive to his 18th birthday, and only days before he was due to celebrate his big day he had become seriously ill.
Now, they take every day they have with him as a bonus.
His mum added: “Every day, every memory, every moment is so important to us as we don’t know how long we have with Ewan.
“Last year, we thought we were going to lose him, but he is still here, still being Ewan and every single moment we have extra is a bonus to us all.
“We’re all so proud of him.”
The new project encompasses a wide range of activities currently being undertaken by the club and Foundation, which are geared towards ending discrimination and inequality in football and in society.
This includes work with supporter groups including United With Pride and Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association, as well as initiatives such as On the Ball, Be A Game Changer and Memory Café.
Lee Charnley, Newcastle United’s managing director, said: “We are proud of the work we are doing to improve inclusion and welfare at our club.
“With great support from the players, staff, supporters, sponsors and the Premier League, we are working to cultivate a culture as varied as that of the great city we are honoured to represent.”
For more information on United As One, including initiatives, activities, events and policies, visit www.nufc.co.uk/unitedasone.