Hearts goalkeeper Neil Alexander has been named as the patron of a new charity set up in Jak Trueman’s name – after he was asked to fill the role by the schoolboy himself just days before he died.
The brave 15-year-old passed away on Monday last week after a six-month battle with a rare form of blood cancer, raising tens of thousands of pounds for good causes in his final days.
And now mum Allison Barr has outlined plans to erect a purpose-built facility in his home town of Mid Calder called Jak’s Den – complete with a large hall for games and concerts and a specialist cafe offering a sterile environment for cancer patients.
The hall will be the base of Team Jak, the charity being set up by Jak’s family to fight cancer following a deathbed request from the teen. Mum Allison said Rangers-mad Jak had personally asked ex-Gers star Neil Alexander to be patron before he died, after striking up a friendship with the goalie when he visited him in hospital.
She said: “Neil has been amazing to Jak – he’s been out seeing him in the house and he gave him his personal number. His wife has been in touch every day seeing how we are. It’s lovely that Neil is doing it.
“On his first visit he brought Jak a signed Rangers goalie top – he didn’t just bring him a Hearts one, he took the time to give him one of his older ones.
“He came in with that and a pair of personalised signed goalie gloves and a packet of Haribos, because he heard that Jak liked Haribos.
“He was just so thoughtful, and he spent ages with him. He kept in touch.
“He was one of the few people that actually managed to go over to the house last weekend before he passed away and spend some time with him there, and Jak was actually able to ask him face-to-face to become the patron.”
On Sunday, a charity football game held in Jak’s honour saw 4000 people pack into Livingston FC’s Almondvale Stadium, raising more than £13,200 for cancer charities.
A raft of big-name footballers turned up to show their support, including Alexander, Celtic legend Frank McAvennier and former Rangers players Nacho Novo, Charlie Miller and Marvin Andrews.
In a statement contained in the match programme, Alexander insisted it was a “great honour” to be asked to become the patron of Team Jak.
He said: “I feel privileged to have been able to get to know Jak over the last four months and blessed to have called him my friend. I will continue to support Jak’s charity and family to raise as much money and awareness as possible to help others.”
Derek Watson, chairman of the Hearts Supporters’ Trust, said he was “absolutely delighted” to hear of Alexander’s involvement.
A celebration of Jak’s life will take place today at 11am in Kirk Of Calder Church, Mid Calder, before his funeral at St Drostans Cemetery in Markinch at 2pm.