When ten-year-old Alonso walked onto the pitch at White Hart Lane with captain Hugo Lloris, he was helping mark one year of an amazing partnership between Noah’s Ark and Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs dedicated the 5 March match, where they beat Everton 3-2, to Noah’s Ark. Judge Rinder talked about us at half-time and our hippos Henry and Harriet were around, saying hello and shaking collecting boxes.
In the lead-up to the Everton match Alonso joined midfielder Mousa Dembele for a press conference in our Barnet shop, on 2 March. Mousa worked behind the till, while Alonso gave him some tips ahead of the game. Alonso was quite candid at one point, saying: “I don’t mean to be rude but, how could you lose against Liverpool?”
Talking about the event Mousa said: “As a football player it’s unbelievable that you can make people happy just by coming and giving a bit of your energy. It’s one of the nicest things there is.”
Having undergone 46 procedures since he was born, with short-gut syndrome, Alonso has spent much of his life in hospital, and he and his mum have been helped by Noah’s Ark since he was a baby.
“What family means to me is Noah’s Ark,” says his mum Enkelejda. “Noah’s Ark was our family at Christmas and birthdays. Noah’s Ark put a present under the tree when I couldn’t afford one. There are no words for how important they have been to us.”
Alonso is now enjoying much better health, and as a lifelong fan of Spurs, being chosen to represent Noah’s Ark at the Everton game has been a fantastic way to celebrate.
“He’s been so unwell all his life that Alonso’s only just started school,” says Enkelejda. “But he’s so intelligent and bright. He’s interested in everything and has plenty of thoughts to share. I’m so proud of him.
“Sunday was a dream-come-true for Alonso. He is such a fan, with so much to say about the game. We can’t believe how lucky he was to have this experience.”
Noah’s Ark families also visited White Hart Lane for an exclusive tour during February’s half term, when they received a surprise visit from Spurs legend, Ledley King. Read more about the day here.
The first year of our partnership has been extraordinary and we’ve seen Noah’s Ark children and their Spurs heroes getting together in all sorts of ways You can also find out more about the partnership, one year in, in this film on the Spurs website.
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Last week Noah’s Ark was at Wembley for Tottenham Hotspur’s match against Arsenal in the North London derby.