Salisbury football club invited a young fundraiser racing around the moon for his seriously ill little brother to be their mascot for last Saturday’s match. 

Seven-year-old Harry Byrne was presented with a Salisbury FC shirt and invited to be a mascot at the home match against Hartley Wintney FC last Saturday, raising £985 for the childrens hospices who look after his brother Reuben. 

Harry, from Larkhill, ran three laps around the pitch at half time in front of the cheering crowd at the Ray Mac Stadium as part of his mission to race the 6786-mile distance around the moon for Julia’s House Children’s Hospice and Naomi House and Jacksplace. 

Salisbury FC Coach Chris ‘Keano’ Keane said: “I first learned about Harry’s ‘race around the moon’ challenge when he came to our kids’ summer holiday football club.

"I asked his Mum Sophie more about it and she shared their family story. We were all blown away and wanted to do what we could to help.

“I told Harry he was a hero and he said, “I’m not a hero – it’s my brother who is the hero.”

"I’ve only known Harry for a short time, but it’s clear that he just wants to give to others.

"He’s such an inspirational young man, and I don’t think he realises how special he is.” 

Mum Sophie Byrne said: “[Harry] loved smashing goals past the keeper and having everyone cheering him on. 

“He had the biggest smile on his face and he was in his element. I’m so grateful to the club for giving us such a wonderful day, and to the fans for their generosity.”

Despite a rocky start with a 6am ambulance call for 2-year-old Reuben, who can suffer up to 10 seizures a day because of his rare terminal condition, the family were all able to attend the special day.

Salisbury Journal: Reuben got to watch his brother, Harry, complete the mile lap of Salisbury FC with the whole family.%Photo by Michael BerkeleyReuben got to watch his brother, Harry, complete the mile lap of Salisbury FC with the whole family.%Photo by Michael Berkeley

“Reuben was a little sleepy at the game, but when he woke up we got him out for a cuddle and he watched Harry do his mile,” said mum Sophie Byrne.

“Harry cuddled Reuben as soon as he got back – it was so cute. Our six-month-old Felix was also there and he had an absolute blast from the box.”

Speaking about his race to the moon challenge Harry said: “I’m doing it because I love Reuben to the moon and back. It was a bit too far to go to the moon, so I’m racing around it instead.

"I want to raise money for the good nurses that come to our house and look after Reuben. I like to play with him and make him smile – it isn’t always easy but I can do it sometimes.”

Doctors are still learning about Reuben's condition which causes his brain to deteriorate, and is so rare that it doesn’t have a name yet.

Harry’s older sister Olivia died from the same condition when she was just eight months old.

Fundraising Administrator for Julia’s House Nicky Clack said, “It was brilliant to see Harry enjoying himself at Salisbury FC – it was a real memory making day for him and the whole family. 

“The club made every effort to make it special for them and we’re hugely thankful to the fans, who went out of their way to find us and make a donation in our buckets.

“The money raised will make an incredible difference to families like Harry’s who rely on the essential respite care we provide in the family home and at our hospice in Devizes.”

Harry has now raised more than £6,000 towards his target of £10,000 for Julia’s House children’s hospice and Naomi House and Jacksplace. He will complete his three month challenge at the end of this month.

Support Harry and join his ‘Race around the moon’

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