Named after former Saints chairman Leon Barwell, who lost his 18-month battle with cancer in June 2013, the Foundation has been established by Leon’s wife Paula, his children Henry, Ben and Phoebe, and his sister Ella.
Cancer affects thousands of people each passing year, and when a parent is undergoing treatment it can put serious strain on families, both financially and emotionally.
The Trustees of the Leon Barwell Foundation hope to reduce this burden, even if only for a short time. This could be support for a holiday or special occasion, or putting together an experience that will never be forgotten.
“As a family we were able to share some amazing and fantastic times with Leon throughout his illness,” said Paula Barwell. “Most of that was down to his own sheer strength and determination of will, he didn't want his cancer diagnosis to have an enormous impact on us all.
“We want to be able to give other families the same sort of opportunity, which is why the Leon Barwell Foundation has been set up to create those everlasting memories for families who are in the same situation as we found ourselves in.
“Leon and I had conversations with many people on chemo wards, and what became very apparent to us was that there is a financial and emotional burden on parents who are affected and diagnosed with cancer.
“The Foundation’s aims are two-fold - it could be in providing financial support to people who are having problems with mounting debts, but our main aim is to give families the opportunity to share in a special, unique event and to create those special memories that stay with them forever.
“So while financial donations are very welcome, we are also very keen to talk to companies and organisations who can add contacts to our network who can help put these experiences together. We are at the start of what we hope will be a long journey that will reflect and honour Leon’s legacy.”
Initially the Leon Barwell Foundation will be working within Northamptonshire, and will be liaising with other local charities, cancer groups and medical stakeholders to identify families in need of support.
Two fundraising events have been organised, the first a black-tie dinner at Franklin’s Gardens which will be hosted by former Saint and one of the current faces of BT Sport, Martin Bayfield, and a unique football match that will see former stars from the Saints, Cobblers and Steelbacks go head-to-head at Sixfields.
Confirmed players include Matt Dawson, Paul Grayson, Colin Calderwood, Ian Sampson, Devon Malcolm with more names to be announced over the next few months.
For more information about either the dinner or the match, and to find out more about the Leon Barwell Foundation, visit www.leonbarwellfoundation.org