Footballer's 4x4x48 challenge for Leeds children's cancer charity Candlelighters

A semi-professional footballer from Leeds was due to finish a gruelling fundraising run challenge in aid of Candlelighters this morning.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 6:00 am
Tom Claisse Photo: Steve Riding

Former Leeds United schoolboy player Tom Claisse, who is celebrating his 34th birthday today (Sat March 27), set himself the 4x4x48 challenge to raise cash for the Leeds children's cancer charity.

The dad of two from Burmantofts, who started the challenge at 4am on Thursday, planned to run four miles every four hours for 48 hours.

He was expecting to finish in the early hours today.

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Tom Claisse serves with the RAF

Speaking to the YEP ahead of the challenge, Tom said: "I'm expecting it to be mentally tough because I don't expect to get much sleep or eat much in the 48 hours."

Tom, who works as an air and space operations specialist in the RAF, said he tries to use his time to help others while on leave from work.

Last October, Tom and his fiancee Lauren Meah made more than 120 meals at their home and delivered them to families in need across the city during the school holiday week.

Tom said: "I'm a Leeds lad and I just want to give something back to Leeds."

Tom Claisse pictured playing for Tadcaster Albion in 2015

Tom is a semi-professional footballer who has played for a string of local clubs including Farsley Celtic and Tadcaster Albion.

He now plays at Emley AFC in Huddersfield.

The former Ebor Gardens Primary School pupil was spotted by Leeds United while playing for Yorkshire Amateurs as a schoolboy.

Tom said he was a junior at Leeds United between the ages of eight and 15.

He then moved to Bradford City, where served an apprenticeship before leaving aged 19.

He now travels the world playing football for the RAF and the UK Armed Forces football teams, both of which he has captained.

Tom was captain of the UK Armed Forces football team in 2018 when he was chosen to carry the cup to the Royal box at the end of the match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley.

Tom, who joined the RAF in 2011, was picked for the honour in recognition of his successful military football career.

His duties at the match formed part of RAF100, a programme of events marking the centenary of the founding of the air force in 2018.

Tom Robertshaw, head of fundraising at Candlelighters said: “We are incredibly grateful to Tom for supporting us and we wish him luck for his challenge.

"Last year our core fundraising was reduced by £350,000 and we expect it to take several years for our income to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

"Supporters like Tom are helping to ensure that we can still be there for all of the families across Yorkshire affected by childhood cancer, providing emotional, practical and financial support to help them through an unimaginably hard time.”

Click here to donate to Tom's Just Giving appeal.