Mystery EastEnders actor to play in Saffron Walden charity football match

Ethan Linwood Ethan Linwood

Friday, March 14, 2014
3:46 PM

A mystery EastEnders star has been lined up to play in a celebrity football match to honour the memory of a Thaxted youngster.

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He will join cast members from The Only Way Is Essex and a host of other celebrities and former professional footballers for the game on April 27.

It is a repeat of last year’s match, at Saffron Walden Town FC’s Catons Lane ground, which drew a massive crowd of 800.

Reporter Sam Tonkin has more...

Bob, Emelia and Morag Linwood at last year's charity football match.Bob, Emelia and Morag Linwood at last year's charity football match.

Seventeen months have passed since the death of a young boy who was “destined to be one of life’s givers”.

In his family’s words, Ethan Linwood was “a champion of the underdog” whose confident personality traversed generations.

A boy who reached for the stars in everything he did.

Popular amongst his peers, a keen golfer and, above all, a kind heart.

A charity car wash was held by Thaxted firefighters with money raised going towards the Ethan Linwood Memorial Fund.A charity car wash was held by Thaxted firefighters with money raised going towards the Ethan Linwood Memorial Fund.

There is no doubt Ethan would have grasped those stars, but only after helping others do the same.

Ethan was tragically killed in a car crash in October 2012.

The Saffron Walden County High School student lived on the outskirts of Thaxted with his mum Morag, dad Bob and sister Emelia.

In his memory, the Linwoods have set out a vision: to inspire kids to be great, to achieve their dreams, to give those less fortunate the opportunity to experience more.

"We want the bedrock of the fund to be about what Ethan would have done – to help other youngsters. Almost all of the money was raised in Uttlesford, so that is where it is going back."

Bob Linwood

Friends and family, young and old have all got involved.

From a trek in Peru, a charity haircut and a celebrity football match. Over the past year-and-a-half, more than £26,000 has been raised by a community who were inspired by Ethan’s life.

In his death, his legacy, the 11-year-old’s family want his spirit to carry on in the hearts and minds of other youngsters.

Those who can pick up Ethan’s torch and pass it on to the next generation.

From left, Martin O'Donnell, Ethan's uncle Paul Linwood, and Allan Taylor.From left, Martin O'Donnell, Ethan's uncle Paul Linwood, and Allan Taylor.

That vision is already being realised.

Here is a recap of the fundraising events so far, those still to come, and how money from the Ethan Rees Linwood Memorial Fund is to be spent.

Forthcoming events

MARCH 23 – SNOOKER DAY

The ‘Challenge a Professional’ snooker day at Saffron Snooker, on Shire Hill will take place for the second time. Kevin Starr, a snooker promoter and sponsor, has once again arranged for professionals Martin O’Donnell and Allan Taylor to come along and have members of the public challenge them to a frame.

Entry is £5 per frame. The day will run from 1-6pm. There will also be a raffle, with prizes that include tickets for a major snooker tournament.

APRIL 27 – CELEBRITY FOOTBALL MATCH

A mystery EastEnders star will join familiar faces from The Only Way Is Essex, Jeff Brazier and former pros in the much-anticipated follow-up to last year’s celebrity football match. All those who played last year have pledged their involvement for the match at Saffron Walden Town FC’s Catons Lane ground, while the Reporter must remain tight-lipped about which EastEnders star has been lined up. There is also a big push to get some of the more well-known and famous faces from TOWIE – a show Ethan was a big fan of – to take part, too.

The Linwoods are on the look out for volunteers to help out on the day, so anyone who can lend a hand has been asked to contact Bob, Ethan’s dad, via ethanrees.org

Local businesses can also get involved, by putting up a stall or gazebo within the ground, and should get in touch with the Linwoods through the website.

Once again there will be a youth game between Ethan’s team, Thaxted Rangers, and his schoolmates from the County High, and a ‘golden oldies’ match.

The Linwoods are keen to beat last year’s turnout of 800 – setting their sights on smashing the 1,000 mark.

JUNE 26 – GOLF DAY

Ethan often honed his swing at Saffron Walden Golf Club and the club is once again hosting a charity golf day. Anyone who would like to enter a team can contact Bob.

You can sign up to receive email alerts about forthcoming events at the website ethanrees.org

Past fundraising activities

Ethan’s friend, Lorcán Gough, a Year 7 pupil at Newport Free Grammar School, raised more than £1,000 after shaving off his locks last December. His long curly hair was donated to the Little Princess Trust – a charity that provides wigs for children who experience hair loss because of cancer treatment.

George Collins and Josh Cole, two more of Ethan’s close pals, designed and sold Christmas cards and decorations at Saffron Walden County High School. George also held a sponsored silence and won a Jack Petchey award – which celebrates the achievements of young people – for his fundraising exploits.

Saffron Boot Camp, which offers personal training to small groups, has pledged to donate money from any of its fundraising events to the Ethan Rees Linwood Memorial Fund. Members took part in a ‘muddy run’ event last October and raised £2,000.

The Fox & Hounds pub in Clavering launched a balloon race on October 5. The winning balloon was found to have travelled as far as Dartford. About £2,000 was raised.

Waitrose promoted the Ethan Rees Linwood Memorial Fund as one of its monthly charities. Shoppers are given the choice of pledging donations, via green tokens, to three listed charities. This raised £500.

Individual donations between £10-20 are still coming in via the website, ethanrees.org

Ethan’s father, Bob, has revealed more about what the family hopes to achieve with the help of the money raised for the Ethan Rees Linwood Memorial Fund.

“Morag, Emelia and myself would like to thank everybody for the brilliant fundraising work so far,” he said. “The fundraising is continuing even without any involvement from us as a family, which is brilliant, and hopefully it will continue.

“We’re very aware that Essex County Council is cutting youth services, so that is a focus of attention for us. We want to hear from individuals and youth workers about how children in Uttlesford could benefit from the charity’s funding.”

Bob added: “We want the bedrock of the fund to be about what Ethan would have done – to help other youngsters. Almost all of the money was raised in Uttlesford, so that is where it is going back.

“The hope is that we can inspire kids and create a positive impact on their life. Sometimes youngsters have a moment in their life where they experience something they have not been exposed to before, and that becomes their chosen path.

“We want to help young people try new things that they wouldn’t otherwise get to do. We want to inspire them to take it up as a hobby or sport – and be great at it.”

How the money will be spent

Thaxted Youth Club

The youth club is hoping to start non-contact boxing, so approached Ethan’s charity for help. A fully collapsible ring and punch bags are needed, and a contribution will be made.

Bob has also donated a drumkit to the youth club.

Ethan’s golf academy

Money from the fund will go towards establishing a golf academy at Saffron Walden Golf Club. “Golf instils a lot of life skills and gets kids out in the open air,” said Bob. “It is still seen as elitist by many people and expensive to do, which shouldn’t be the case.

“Ethan started from a young age and used to go there every Saturday morning. By creating the golf academy, we could unearth the next big talent.”

Coaches will also be putting on taster sessions at Great Sampford Youth Club and the County High School.

Great Sampford Youth Club

Youngsters have been asked what they would like to see at the youth club, where Ethan used to go, with the help of a donation from the fund.

Saffron Walden Town FC

A contribution is being made to the Bloods’ youth academy to better link the path from its junior section, all the way up to the first team.

Saffron Snooker

“The fund is designed to raise the aspirations of 8-16 year olds, but a big part of it will be to make contributions to lesser known sports,” said Bob, adding that a donation will be made to the club. “We want them to take up things they otherwise would not.”

• For more information about the Ethan Rees Linwood Memorial Fund, visit ethanrees.org

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