Avid crafter, 11, ‘proud’ to raise £20,000 by selling handmade items

Avid crafter, 11, ‘proud’ to raise £20,000 by selling handmade items
(Left) Leah selling her items at a stall at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and (right) Lioness and Manchester City player Esme Morgan with Leah’s keychains (Craig Walton/PA)

An 11-year-old avid crafter said she was “proud” to raise more than £20,000 for charity by selling handmade football-themed items, raffling signed merchandise including an Arctic Monkeys album, and receiving donations, including from her sporting hero Barry Bannan.

Craig Walton, 50, told PA news agency he was “really, really happy and pleased” that his daughter Leah Walton managed to raise the amount for charity.

“We got quite giddy when it got to about £19,500 and we did a big push on Facebook to sell more stuff to try and reach the £20,000,” he said.

Leah presenting a cheque to Sheffield Children’s Hospital (Craig Walton/PA)

Leah, from Sheffield, had been raising money for Jude Mellon-Jameson, who was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer, before he passed away at age five in September.

Leah wanted to carry on raising money to help children with cancer in his memory for Ward Six of Sheffield Children’s Hospital, the place where Jude died.

Mr Walton said: “When Jude passed away last year, obviously we were all gutted about that but Leah just turned around four days after and says, ‘I want to carry on’.”

Leah has “quite a bit of a following” among the local football community and Sheffield Wednesday in particular “have helped out Leah with autographs and signed football shirts” to sell to raise money, Mr Walton said.

Leah with Sheffield Wednesday striker Michael Smith (Craig Walton/PA)

Sheffield Wednesday striker Michael Smith got his fellow players to sign the football used at the play-off final against Barnsley in May and Leah auctioned it off for £1,000.

After the semi-finals, Wednesday player Lee Gregory gave Leah a signed shirt, as did Mansfield footballer Aden Flint, and the items raised £500 each.

Leah has developed a relationship with several sports stars who have contributed to her cause, including local Wednesday player Barry Bannan, one of Leah’s heroes.

Mr Walton said: “Since she’s been a little girl, she’s always rated for one player, Barry Bannan, and basically…they’ve become quite close and he helps her out a lot.”

Leah selling her items at a stall at Sheffield Children’s Hospital (Craig Walton/PA)

“She asked Barry, would you sponsor me…and he put down £100 and then he’s gone into the changing rooms and said ‘there’s a little girl outside that I want every one of you to sponsor’.”

Leah said: “I think I’m very lucky because some people won’t be able to meet Barry like me and know Barry like I do.”

Leah has received help from the Lionesses, including Lucy Bronze and Ellie Roebuck, who met with her and gave her signed shirts, boots and a ball to keep and auction off, and former Lioness Jill Scott, who filmed herself praising scrunchies Leah had made.

Lioness and patron of Sheffield Children’s Hospital Esme Morgan recently donated a signed World Cup shirt, which Leah will be raffling off in the coming weeks.

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, from Sheffield, reached out to Leah to offer his support.

Mr Walton said: “The drummer Matt actually reached out to us and gave some signed stuff and next thing we knew an Arctic Monkeys album came through the post. That went for £500.”

Leah asked for a sewing machine one Christmas “because I wanted to make clothes for dolls” and “absolutely loves crafting,” she said, which led to her make items for charity.

She has raised around £3,000 from selling her handmade items, most notably keyrings, which she sells for £1.50.

Leah said she ‘absolutely loves crafting’ (Craig Walton/PA)

Many are decorated with football logos but Leah also makes custom orders, featuring anything from ice hockey players to Taylor Swift.

She sells the items on “various Facebook pages and she’d actually had a stall around Sheffield Children’s Hospital last December because they’d got Christmas lights around their hospital and they had a light switch-on”, Mr Walton said.

Mr Walton added that “she’s had personal thanks from the CEO of the hospital and the charity” due to her fundraising efforts.

Mum Charlotte Walton, 37, said the family had “lost their kitchen” as it has been transformed into a crafting workshop hosting Leah’s sewing machine and crafting items.

Leah said she was “proud” to raise the amount for children with cancer and plans to continue her work.

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