A 10-year-old Lionesses superfan has won support – and received a pair of signed boots –from her England heroes after she raised more than £14,500 for a young boy with cancer.
After getting a sewing machine for Christmas last year, Leah Walton, from Sheffield, has been selling World Cup-themed homemade scrunchies and keyrings to raise money for four-year-old Jude Mellon-Jameson, who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive childhood cancer.
Her fundraising efforts have caught the attention of England players Lucy Bronze and Ellie Roebuck, who met with her and gave her signed shirts, boots and a ball to keep and auction off, and former Lioness Jill Scott, who filmed herself praising the scrunchies.
In the video, Scott says: "I love your scrunchies. I've heard that you're really working hard to raise money for charity so keep up the good work.
"Thanks for mine. I'll be wearing mine at the World Cup. Hopefully it'll bring the Lionesses some luck."
Leah's dad Craig Walton contacted Lucy Bronze's agent while on holiday in Barcelona, to see if his daughter could meet her while the footballer was training in the city.
He said: "The idea was just to ask Lucy if she could just come and spend 10 minutes with us after training and she surprised Leah, tapped her on the shoulder, and then took her inside this Barcelona training ground and we spent an hour and a half with her on a tour of the training ground."
Leah said that her football hero was "really, really kind" and gave her signed football boots to keep and a football to auction off. She was also given two shirts signed by Lioness Ellie Roebuck.
The 10-year-old added: "She gave us this shirt to donate, which raised £300, and she gave me a shirt for myself to keep and now it's up in my bedroom on my wall."
Leah has raised £420 by selling the scrunchies. She said the "inspirational" and "heroic" Lionesses prompted her to start playing for the Sheffield Wednesday's under-11s team and now the young footballer is excited about the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.