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  1. ITV Report

Robot helps 14 year old become Everton's first virtual mascot

A specially designed robot allowed Jack McLinden to see and chat with Everton players. Credit: Everton FC

A 14 year old boy has made history by becoming the first "vitual" mascot for his favourite football club - all thanks to a robot.

Jack McLinden has multiple health conditions and was too unwell to travel from home to watch his beloved Everton Football Club play against Newcastle United on Monday.

But he still experienced all the excitement of going on the pitch via a specially designed robot carried by the team's captain.

Phil Jagielka carried the robot onto the pitch - while Jack watched through its camera. Credit: Everton FC

It fed 360 degree live images and sound back to Jack's iPad, with a microphone allowing him to chat with players.

Jack McLinden is a life-long Everton fan. Credit: Everton FC

The "telepresence robot", called AV1, was made by Norwegian start-up No Isolation to help children and teenagers with long-term illness combat loneliness by attending school and social events from home.

The device’s connects to a smartphone or tablet, allowing them to see, hear and communicate with others.

The device’s connects to a smartphone or tablet, allowing youngsters to see, hear and communicate with others. Credit: Everton FC

Jack is currently being given care and assistance by the UK children’s charity WellChild, who work with Jack’s family, and assisted in setting up the project.

We think the little robot could be a massive boon for children with complex needs, whose conditions mean that they cannot be everywhere they want to be in person.

There is a growing population of families who are caring for a seriously ill child at home. We know that feelings of isolation are a common issue for many children and families in this situation.

– Michelle Wignall, mother

Karen Dolva, CEO and Co-Founder of No Isolation, added: “Technology is about making the seemingly impossible possible. For Jack, the dream of being a mascot for his favourite football club was not likely to happen given his condition. The AV1 is designed to involve children who, because of illness, feel marginalised and out of the loop from their friends.

"Working with such a wonderful and inclusive club as Everton to give Jack this once in a lifetime opportunity is a moment myself and those working at our company will never forget.”