Football match and fundraising in memory of Aidan, who died from complications related to type 1 diabetes, raises £15,000.
Friends and family of Aidan Sutherland recently celebrated his life by holding a memorial football match.
Aidan was a keen footballer and fan of Raith Rovers, and the match was played at their Stark’s Park ground - where a crowd of 1,100 packed the stands to show their support.
A motivational poster for players as they walked out onto the pitch and action from the match
Aidan, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, had type 1 diabetes and died just two days after his 20th birthday on 3rd July, due to complications of a hyperglycaemic episode (high blood sugar levels).
While Aidan’s family and friends were aware of how to treat the symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) they did not recognise the symptoms of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels).
To raise awareness of the dangers of this complication of diabetes Aidan’s family chose to support DRWF and have organised a number of fundraising events.
So far around £15,000 has been donated to DRWF as a result of the amazing fundraising activities that have taken place.
The memorial match for Aidan was contested between Kirkcaldy YM and Steadings AFC and the sides featured many of Aidan’s friends and team mates.
Colin Cameron and Darren Dods
Well-known former professional footballers also took part, as the match featured a guest appearance by former Scotland international Colin Cameron, who also played for Raith Rovers, Heart of Midlothian and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Also involved was Darren Dods, a friend of Aidan’s family, who played for Hibernian, St Johnstone, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Dundee United and Falkirk.
Darren said: “I was honoured to be asked to play in Aidan's memorial match and enjoyed playing with Aidan's team mates. It was really good to see the amazing turnout and the effort all the family and friends had put in on the day to raise awareness of diabetes.”
In the match day programme Aidan’s father John Sutherland said: “Aidan wouldn’t let type 1 diabetes halt his progress in life or shatter his dreams. Aidan knew to keep strong.
“As a family, we feel an immense sense of pride for our boy, knowing that it was not solely his upbringing that could create such a special being. He had the best life possible, surrounded by joy and love, we will all live on with his spirit giving us the strength to go into the future.”
Aidan's friend Ben Graham in the dressing room at Stark's Park ahead of the memorial match
At the memorial match, as team captains Ben Graham and Connor McManus lead their teams out, Connor displayed the Steadings’ team shirt with a newly introduced club crest “AS5”, in memory of Aidan. The Steadings team honoured Aidan by retiring his number 5 shirt.
Following the match Aidan's friend and team mate, Craig Lowrie, Honorary Captain for the cup presentation, received the trophy from Aidan’s father, John
Burntisland Pipe Band provided the pre-match entertainment
After the match an auction was held, with prizes including a helicopter ride donated by Aidan's girlfriend Danielle Forster, helped raise £1,900.
The match raised more than £10,600.
Aidan Sutherland and the "Forever Raith Rovers" plaque at his seat in the stand at Stark's Park
John introduced Aidan to Raith Rovers early in his life and Aidan also played for several youth football sides around Fife. Last season he was a member of the Kirkcaldy YM Colts Under-19s side who were crowned League Cup Champions.
John said: “As a four-year-old, Aidan would take the short walk up the Pratt Street hill to Stark’s Park with me, not knowing that this club, Raith Rovers, would become all that mattered on any given Saturday afternoon.
“Aidan would take in every game possible and in 2014, some 13 years later, he witnessed his first national cup triumph [as Raith won the Scottish Challenge Cup Final against Rangers].
“Raith Rovers can pride themselves on being a family club with rich community spirit. When I had to announce to them that Aidan had passed away, a plaque at his seat in the stand was agreed without questioning and the stadium gates opened to my wife and I for times of reflection and mourning. Sat by our boy’s seat we could take strength knowing he would always be watching over his team.
“The Memorial Day was full of love and support. The attendance, approaching 1,100 who gave up their Sunday filled me with pride. As the game produced goal after goal played in a competitive tempo, my attention would be taken to all that was going on around me on this truly memorable day.
“We had so many families attending in support for their own diabetes awareness that everyone would have taken something away with them on the day. As for our family, from every visitor who attended on the day, we have taken so much positive energy and strength knowing how much goodness our son has created during, and following, his amazing 20 years with us.”
Aidan's parents Lin and John with a photo signed by the Portsmouth Football Club squad
In addition to Raith, Aidan also supported Portsmouth FC and DRWF presented a photograph of Aidan signed by the squad of the League One side.
John said: “Aidan would be in awe by the gesture made from his Pompey heroes.”
DRWF Community Fundraiser Karen Scott said: “DRWF is based on Hayling Island, near Portsmouth. Aidan supported our local Portsmouth Football Club and we are honoured to be the charity chosen by his family for this event.”
In addition to the memorial football match Aidan’s friends and family have taken part in a number of fundraising activities to raise awareness about diabetes:
Queensferry Crossing Experience
Earlier this year two of Aidan’s best friends - Ben Graham and Rebecca Birrell, Aidan’s girlfriend Danielle Forster, her mother Marcia Woods and Danielle’s grandfather, Alan Forster raised more than £2,300 for DRWF by taking part in the Queensferry Crossing Experience – a walk over the new bridge that opened in August as the main route for traffic crossing the Forth River between Edinburgh and Fife.
Dunfermline and District Heart Supporters Club Annual Walk
As part of the Dunfermline and District Hearts Supporters Club annual walk in November, Sandy Dowie, a close friend of Aidans’ father, John, walked 17 miles from Duloch, in Dunfermline, Fife to Tynecastle Park in Edinburgh, home of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.
Sandy was supported on the way by his son Cameron Dowie and Aidan’s father John. The group are pictured above with Hannah Travers, who was walking to raise funds for a charity trip to Malawi.
Sandy said: “Well, we made it but have to say I was suffering the next day, whilst the youngsters could have probably walked home afterwards. It was an excellent day and the sun shone for us throughout the walk.
"We have raised £800 for DRWF, which I'm sure you will agree is an amazing total considering my first target was to make £200.”
John said: “When you see the figure raised, it does make the aches and pains disappear.”
McKenzies Hairdressing Christmas shopping evening and charity raffle
A Christmas shopping evening and charity raffle was recently held by McKenzies Hairdressing, based in Kirkcaldy and raised £627 from donations and a raffle.
Debbie McIntosh said: “We had a fantastic afternoon. We would like to thank everyone that attended our Christmas Shopping Event.”
John said: “(Aidan’s mother) Lin and I are really proud of the diabetes awareness that was highlighted throughout the fundraising.
“Thanks all for your tremendous efforts. We really appreciate it!”
Read a reflective essay by Aidan Sutherland about living with type 1 diabetes here
Find out more about fundraising for DRWF here
Memorial match photos courtesy of DC Thomson Ltd