Betty-Leigh Allinson’s fundraising in a football shirt has earned her a call-up to our Lionhearts squad as well as a trip to Disneyland Paris.
The five-year-old from Codicote in Hertfordshire has raised over £32,000 since July, when she decided to cycle a mile a day for Garden House Hospice Care, where her grandmother works.
It all started when a dream trip to Disneyland Paris which she was saving up for with her grandparents was cancelled during the COVID-19 lockdown.
She put forward the £7 she’d saved to start the fund before embarking on a different trip each day in a football shirt.
Her exploits saw more and more people supporting her with donations and it didn’t take long for a variety of clubs to send their own kits in for her to wear each day and she also received a message from former England captain David Beckham.
And she’ll now have her own special England jersey to commemorate her inclusion in the Lionhearts squad, as she was told about her inclusion and presented with her framed shirt by former Three Lions and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman.
He also told her that, thanks to Disneyland Paris, she’ll be able to enjoy a two-day trip to explore the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park along with a stay at a Disney Resort Hotel.
The Lionhearts initiative, supported by BT, aims to pay homage to 23 inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond during this challenging time for the nation.
In the absence of international football this summer due to the postponement of UEFA EURO 2020, England’s focus will instead be on building a squad of true heroes that have stepped up during our time of need.
Betty-Leigh received over 130 nominations, with one of those who put her name forward revealing: "Betty has only recently learnt how to ride her bike without stabilisers and, for the last 55 days, she’s done a mile a day on her bike raising over £27,000 for a hospice close to her home.
"She started the fund herself with the £7 that she saved to go to Disneyland Paris with her grandparents, which she had to miss because of lockdown.
"Football clubs from all over the UK have sent shirts to her so that she can wear a different one every day while she does her daily ride.
"Any weather she never moans she just gets on with the job. Her aim is to carry this on until lockdown is over and she is back to school. She’s a little star."
Betty-Leigh takes shirt number five in our squad and is the fourth member of the Lionhearts to be revealed.
Meet the Lionhearts group as it stands:
- 1. Captain Sir Tom Moore – Record-breaking centenarian who raised more than £32 million for NHS Charities Together
- 5. Betty-Leigh Allinson – Five-year-old football shirt enthusiast who has raised over £27,000 for a Hertfordshire hospice through a cycling feat
- 9. Tobias Weller – Nine-year-old inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore to raise almost £150,000 for Sheffield-based charities
- 15. Hassan Akkad – Award-winning film maker who answered a call to be a cleaner in his local hospital before raising awareness of NHS bereavement fund