"I'll never, ever forget that as long as I live" - Stephen Brown on the 'overwhelming' response to his son Noah's story

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The dad of FC Halifax Town fan Noah Brown says he will never forget the minute's applause in memory of his son during The Shaymen's match against Wrexham on Friday.

Noah, a fourth generation Halifax fan, was 19 when he died from bowel cancer in August last year.

Noah's family went public with his story last week in the hope of raising money and awareness for the Teenage Cancer Trust, who helped support them during Noah's illness.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I approached the club about two weeks ago to let them know about Noah's death," said Noah's dad Stephen, who also supports The Shaymen.

Jack Senior, Stephen Brown and Milli Alli with the shirt Noah wore to Wembley in 2016Jack Senior, Stephen Brown and Milli Alli with the shirt Noah wore to Wembley in 2016
Jack Senior, Stephen Brown and Milli Alli with the shirt Noah wore to Wembley in 2016

"Since Noah died last August, we've struggled to come to terms with everything and I guess it was part of our rebuild if you like.

"I approached Teenage Cancer Trust in December to see if we could volunteer for them because they were so supportive of Noah and our family throughout his illness and his treatment at St James' Hospital in Leeds.

"They are entirely funded on charitable donations, they get nothing from the government.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's obviously a very cluttered charity market to try and get people to donate.

Noah BrownNoah Brown
Noah Brown

"We just wanted to give back, it's as simple as that.

"When Noah was taken ill we basically shut down our business so we could care for him on a full-time basis.

"We lived just outside Haworth and downsized and are over in Robin Hood's Bay now, close to where my dad was born in Whitby.

"His family moved over to Sower by Bridge in the 1930's, which is when the Halifax Town connection started.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Noah at Wembley in 2016Noah at Wembley in 2016
Noah at Wembley in 2016

"I started going down with granddad and my dad in the early sixties.

"My first game was actually before I was born - my mum and dad went to a match at Bradford City and my mum fainted because she was expecting me.

"It's been a part of every aspect of my life, both my kids have been with me to matches from a very early age.

"It's a community club, part and parcel of who we all are."

Noah and his dad Stephen at Wembley in 2016Noah and his dad Stephen at Wembley in 2016
Noah and his dad Stephen at Wembley in 2016

Stephen says the family don't know what they'd have done without the help and support of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We started looking at building awareness of their extraordinary work because they just don't sing from the rooftops about themselves, they're just so focused on what they do," Stephen said.

"They're extraordinary, they've got 28 wards that they fund completely in hospitals all over the country, and they have kids like Noah all over the country.

"Cancer in young people is not as rare as people think, and not as rare as GP's and Primary Care Trusts seem to give credence to.

"It's very difficult to get that message across, but we saw an opportunity to help and use Noah's story to raise that awareness and god bless Halifax Town, they rang me back within 20 minutes of contacting them to say 'how can we help, come and see us'.

"They've been fantastic to us."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stephen says the response to Noah's story has been overwhelming, especially the 19th minute applause during Friday's match at The Shay.

"We felt so nervous walking into the ground on Friday, we arrived early," he said.

"We'd been invited for lunch in the banqueting suite and kind of felt a bit conspicuous, but we were made to feel so welcomed, at home, comfortable, people were warm and friendly, spoke to us.

"Being in the stand to watch the game and then the 19th minute arrives, and to have eight thousand people in every corner of the ground, as one, applauding in celebration of Noah's life, Julie and I were in tears.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'm welling up just thinking about it, I'll never, ever forget that as long as I live.

"We're not alone, you know in a situation like that that people get it and that there's so much good out there, so many good people.

"The response from Wrexham was equally overwhelming, we got so many messages of support from their supporters.

"They had their own collections on the stands and raised a huge amount of money.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It just put everything into perspective that, as passionate as we all are about our teams, there are things that make you realise that there are more important things out there."

Stephen has written to Wrexham to thank them and express his gratitude to everyone at the club, with Wrexham fans donating to the appeal in their droves and Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, co-owners of the club, donating £5,000.

"They've acted with such great integrity," Stephen said. "They really are redrafting the blueprint of how to run a football club, with the community at its heart.

"I don't buy this opinion that they're buying success, I think they've instilled an attitude, a transparency and a passion that a lot of clubs can take from."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The total raised is now more than £21,000, having been £11,800 last Thursday.

"We've got another collection to come in yet so I suspect we'll probably be nearer £22,000 - it's basically doubled since the awareness of the fund was made public," Stephen said.

"I think we had about 80 donations before that and now we've got 280, and on top of that, hundreds and hundreds of people donated at the game.

"I'm humbled beyond belief. The whole situation's really given me some impetus to push on because there's lots and lots of kids out there that are going to have the same diagnosis as Noah and to get that information about Teenage Cancer Trust out there and let them know they're not on their own and there's incredible support there, I feel like I've really got a cause to go after.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The pressing thing is that diagnosing cancer has got to get quicker.

"Kids are missing out because there's this perception that it's rare. GP's and Primary Care Trusts need to start pushing to identify cancer as a diagnosis as fast as possible."

When asked what Noah would think of the response to his story, Stephen said: "He'd have hated it!

"We genuinely feel blessed that we had a few months after his diagnosis to say everything we wanted to say and do everything we could while he was physically able.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He basically gave his consent that 'once I'm dead, knock yourself out'.

"He was private and shy and he didn't crave attention, so I think he'd have found it quite uncomfortable but we've done this with his blessing.

"As a kid growing up he found levels of interest in all manner of things - football was one aspect of it.

"In his earlier life he loved going to the games, and then he got more interested in other things, music in particular was a huge passion of his.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He was a normal kid that was special to us that was mischievous, that was politically and socially aware, he cared very deeply, he was a humanitarian through and through, he was such a lovely, lovely boy.

"We were incredibly proud of him. Noah’s illness demanded intensive levels of chemotherapy which really took their toll on him.

"St James' Hospital were incredible and all the donated money that comes in through Noah’s Just Giving page has been allocated by Teenage Cancer Trust to go directly to their ward J94 where Noah was treated.

"They were incredible, absolutely incredible, but he faced it with incredible dignity, never complained, ever, not once.

"Just inspiring really."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Noah was one of around 10,000 people from Calderdale to attend FC Halifax Town's FA Trophy victory at Wembley in 2016.

And Stephen, 61, Noah's mum Julie, 59, and sister Kizzy, 23, will be at Wembley on May 21 to watch Halifax in this year's final as well.

"It was such a great day in 2016," said Stephen. "I took Noah's shirt from that day to the Wrexham game and got a lovely picture with Milli Alli and Jack Senior after the game.

"I'll be taking it down to Wembley with me as well."

Stephen says he is incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped spread Noah's story and donate to the fundraising effort.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"To everybody at Halifax Town for picking this up with incredible care and compassion and running with it, and understanding the magnitude of what we're going through as a family and how important young people are," he added.

"Everybody that Noah's story has resonated with, people that are going through such trauma themselves.

"We're just so painfully aware that Noah is not an isolated case and we'll do everything we can to heal other people's paths down the line.

"Everybody that's donated, thank you so, so much, it's just unbelievably kind, in the most austere of times.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We've asked people not to donate if it causes any degree of hardship, we don't want that.

"We'd ask people to spread or share any links, you never where they might land and who they might resonate with.

"There's such good people out there, we've had such a lot of support, it's so nice to know that people care.

"Our gratitude is enormous."

Heather Bowen, senior relationship manager from the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: "The coming together of FC Halifax Town and Wrexham AFC players, fans, and management for Friday’s game was simply spectacular.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The death of Noah Brown, aged just 19, touched so many hearts that afternoon, with both home and away fans rallying together with kindness, support and love for Noah and his family.

"Raising well over £11,000 in one afternoon in memory of Noah for the support of our Teenage Cancer Trust unit at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, ensuring no young person diagnosed with cancer, faces that alone.

"Just as important on the day, the raising of awareness of the five signs and symptoms of cancer in young people, something that Noah’s family are supporting us with, right across Yorkshire.

"New research reveals that less than half of 18-to-24-year-olds can identify any of the five main warning signs of cancer in young people, lumps bumps and swellings, unexplained tiredness, mole changes, pain and significant weight change.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Cancer is rare in young people, but it’s always worth getting anything unusual checked out."We can’t thank the supporters and teams enough for their generosity and support at the game on Friday, it was one of those spine-tingling days that will stay with me for a long, long time.”

To donate, click here.