JAMES Smith and Corey Jones have been selected to play in this weekend’s celebrity fixture at the Pirelli Stadium (September 22), following a recent competition run by Burton Albion Community Trust (BACT) to find a ‘local hero’.
The competition, which aimed to reward an individual for their strength and bravery, has led to both men being selected to play in the game following their battles with mental health.
Their individual stories around standing up to the stigma and challenges of mental health has earned them both the opportunity to walk out at the Pirelli Stadium alongside a number of high-profile celebrity names and Brewers favourites.
James (22), said: “I’m honoured to be asked to play in this fantastic event to help raise awareness and beat the stigma that there is around mental health. As a Burton Albion Season Ticket holder, to play on the Pirelli Stadium pitch is going to be a very special occasion for me.”
Corey (19), said: “Saying that this is a dream come true would be an understatement!
"I personally struggle with mental health and to help raise awareness for it and hopefully help other people speak out about their problems is something I’ve been aspiring to do for a long time."
The game, which aims to raise funds for mental health projects delivered by BACT, will also see Isla Kilpatrick-Screaton (2) and sister Paige (7) lead out both teams on the day.
Isla, who has a very rare genetic disorder, has been through more challenges than most children her age. In February 2017, the challenges started for her family as she was unable to keep her oxygen levels up independently, leading to her being put into a medical coma for five days.
Since then, Isla has had to spend most of her time at hospital following an emergency tracheostomy to give her a stable airway. She now faces heart surgery in the coming months due to complications that she has picked up since birth.
Isla's father, Kyle, said: “We are grateful to Burton Albion for allowing us to share Isla's story and allowing both of our girls to make memories together as sisters should do.
“The girls have missed out on a lot of time and opportunities to have fun and make memories together due to Isla's long stays in hospital. It’s going to be a really special occasion for our family.”
Matt Hancock, Head of Community, said: “I’m delighted that this game can give these four individuals the opportunity of a lifetime.
“With James and Corey, their stories not only linked in with the theme of what the day is about, but also their bravery in how they’ve tried to battle and raise awareness for mental health in young people was clear to see.
“This type of bravery was also seen in young Isla and her family, who have been through such struggles recently and we’re delighted that the girls can lead out the two teams."
Admission prices will be: