Football star Jermain Defoe is to be honoured with a Personality of the Year award in recognition of the bond he shared with young cancer patient Bradley Lowery.
The former Sunderland striker, now with AFC Bournemouth, will receive the award from the North East Football Writers’ Association later this month.
The North East Personality of the Year trophy is a special award given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to recognise someone who uses their position to benefit the wider community.
Jermain Defoe led Bradley Lowery on to the pitch at Wembley (Nick Potts/PA)
Defoe’s touching relationship with Bradley caught the hearts of the nation and helped raise awareness of neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.
The Sunderland-mad little boy had struck up a remarkable friendship with Defoe after being invited to be a mascot for the Black Cats, and walked out at Wembley with his hero when the striker was recalled for England last year.
Defoe cuddled the brave youngster as he went through a gruelling course of treatment in hospital,and visited him in his final days.
The pair had a remarkable bond (Bradley Lowery Fight Against Neuroblastoma/PA)
Three thousand people lined the streets of Blackhall, County Durham, for Bradley’s funeral in July after he died aged just six.
At the time, the footballer spoke of the bond they shared, saying: “He only had a short life but maybe it was his calling to raise awareness of the cancer he was suffering from.
“He helped so many people. And he changed so many lives. Including mine.”
Lady Elsie Robson with Sir Bobby Robson Foundation patron Alan Shearer (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)
Sir Bobby’s foundation chooses the personality award and his widow, Lady Elsie, said: “The special connection between Bradley and Jermain was apparent for everyone to see.
“I’m very proud that Jermain is receiving our award because it recognises his wonderful compassion and his commitment to helping other children with cancer in Bradley’s memory.”
The North East Football Writers’ Association Awards will be held on February 25 at Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.