He’s smiled his way through everything that life’s thrown at him, and on Sunday, hundreds of supporters will smile with him.
Just by being his usual bouncy and positive self, Harrogate three-year-old Archie Flintoft has inspired the town to join him in raising awareness of his rare life-threatening condition, and a bumper turnout is expected for his charity football match at the CNG Stadium on Sunday (March 17) - where a team of Emmerdale stars will take on the Harrogate Town Supporters Football Club.
It’s all in aid of DBA UK, the Diamond Blackfan Anaemia charity. Only an estimated 125 people in the UK have DBA, and Archie is keen to help all the other children who are going through the same struggles as he is. He has to have a blood transfusion every three weeks - his bone marrow fails to produce red blood cells, which can lead to a build-up of iron in his body that could prove fatal if it isn’t treated.
Archie’s parents have established Archie’s Army, a fundraising and awareness drive for DBA UK, and the game at Harrogate Town this Sunday is one of their biggest events yet.
Archie will kick off the game at 2pm. His mum Vicky said: “Archie is so excited, he’s really looking forward to it. The last couple of weeks he’s been asking us, ‘when I am going to my football match?’ And we’ve said, not yet, another couple of weeks. But now it’s this Sunday and he can’t wait. He’s got his football kit ready, and he’s been practising.”
When Archie visited the hospital to have his latest transfusion, Vicky said he even practised kicking off the match while he waited.
James Hooton, who plays Sam Dingle, will be among the Emmerdale cast playing in the match on Sunday. James recently gave Archie, his parents and grandparents, a tour of the Emmerdale studios.
James said: “Archie has the appearance of any young boy of his age. He’s outgoing, excitable and inquisitive. I have a three-year-old daughter myself, and if I didn’t know about his condition would say they are very similar.
“What’s amazing is that he is like a normal boy of his age despite everything he has to go through. He has transfusions every three weeks, and needles stuck in him five nights a week to mitigate side effects.
“I think it’s important to raise awareness of his condition because of how rare it is and how little funding is available to help understand and perhaps learn how to tackle the condition.
“I’m looking forward to a great gathering on Sunday, a good kickabout on the pitch, and I’m hopeful that we can raise much-needed awareness and funds for the charity.”
Also playing for the Emmerdale team on Sunday will be Danny Miller (Aaron); Jack Downham (Noah); Joe-Warren Plant (Jacob); Asan N’Jie (Ellis); Ash Palmisciano (Matty), and Jay Kontzle (Billy).
Town mascot Harry Gator will be mingling with the crowds, and there will be an auction to raise funds for DBA UK in the 1919 venue after the match. The exciting range of auction lots includes a framed England shirt signed by Alan Shearer, and a waistcoat signed by Gareth Southgate. Entry to the match is free, with collection buckets, the auction and raffle raising funds for DBA UK.
To donate to DBA UK through Archie's army click here.