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02:20 Fri 17 May 2019

Everton Fan Of The Year Alfie 'Truly Inspiring'

A 10-year-old Evertonian has been described as "truly inspiring" after his quest to set up a mental health initiative targeted specifically at children saw him named the Blues' Fan of the Year.
Youngster Alfie picked up the top supporter prize at this year's Dixies and was invited to USM Finch Farm earlier this month to collect his award from first-team manager Marco Silva.
The Wavertree schoolboy was unanimously chosen for the honour by members of Everton's Fans' Forum, who were drawn to his story from scores of supporter nominations.
Two years ago, Alfie's father, who had mental health issues, passed away suddenly.
Deciding he wanted to help other children going through similar traumas, Alfie wrote to Everton and asked for their support in setting up a campaign.
He has since worked closely with the Club's official charity Everton in the Community and, in April, Toffees stars Michael Keane and Theo Walcott helped launch Alfie's Squad, a fundraising initiative to ensure the Blues' proposed new mental health facility, The People's Place, will offer provision for children and young adults.
Speaking about their decision to name Alfie Fan of the Year, Fans' Forum chairperson Gary Evans said the entire panel had been touched by the youngster's passion, energy and bravery, and praised his selfless determination to help others.

"The work he has done is amazing," said Evans. "I think it was the first time it was a unanimous choice and it's a well deserved award.

"I work with youngsters and I know the impact of the issues of mental health on young children, and what he's doing is absolutely incredible.
"To take such a negative thing that's happened in his life and turn it into such a positive, I think is truly inspiring.

"He's such a humble young person who's only thinking about other people and I hope in years to come he'll look back at this stage of his life with a lot of pride, because he should."
Since its launch, Alfie's Squad has gained national attention, with the campaign's Twitter page having attracted nearly 2,000 followers to date.
The youngster and his mother, Alison, were also invited to appear on Good Morning Britain to explain their story and outline why mental health provision for people of all ages is so important.
Alison thanked the Fans' Forum for choosing Alfie as the Club's Fan of the Year and paid tribute to her son for his courage in trying to prevent other children going through similar pain to himself.
"For Alfie to win Fan of the Year is a dream come true, especially for him to meet Marco and be invited to USM Finch Farm and getting to see places other people don't get to see. He's absolutely made up.
"He's really proud of what he's done and he's very proud to win this award as well.
"I don't think he realises the magnitude of what he's creating by his actions, his initial letter and what he wants to do to help other children. He's so pleased people are responding to what he wants to do but he doesn't realise how big it actually all is.

"That the Fans' Forum have voted for him and that people have taken the time to nominate him and listen to his story, it means a lot to all of us.
"We're trying to help as many children as possible, especially bereaved children, so I would encourage everyone to look at our campaign and join the Squad."
After being invited by Silva to join him in the players' relaxation area at Everton's training ground, Alfie got the opportunity to explain all about his campaign to the Portuguese boss, who then delivered the surprise news about the youngster's award, handing over the Dixie, as well as a home shirt with 'Fan of the Year 2019' on the back. 

"It's made me feel really glad because a lot has happened in the past few years and I knew I'd done a lot with the Club but I didn't think it would be big enough to win this amazing award," said a stunned Alfie.
"I'm just really happy and basically words can't describe how I feel.
"When I wrote the letter I wasn't sure what response I'd get but luckily it's just been so good and Alfie's squad has managed to go viral so it's just amazing.
"Everton in the Community have been so supportive and Everton as a Club in my opinion are the best in the world.

"People should be helped with mental illnesses and that's what Alfie's Squad and The People's Place is for.
"It's just important because I lost my dad, it's tough and I don't want other people to go through what I have.
"Meeting Marco was such a great experience and I've really enjoyed it. I'm going to put the trophy on a little shelf next to my bed so it's visible and I've got bragging rights. That's going to be fun!"
Silva added: "It was fantastic to meet Alfie and hear all about his campaign. He is incredibly brave, incredibly charismatic and what he is doing to help other children is really to be admired.
"I was very happy to invite him to USM Finch Farm and to hand over his award. It was a great honour for me and I think he deserves every support we can give him."
Watch the video above or here to see Alfie receive his award from Silva at USM Finch Farm. Or to learn more about Alfie's Squad, click here.

Users of the official Everton app can also navigate to the 'Video' section. 

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