More than 30 members of Frank Worthington's family to walk in special tribute event after dementia death
More than 30 members of Frank Worthington’s family will be among over 130 walkers taking part in a special event that will pay tribute to the footballing superstar - after he died with dementia in March this year.
Frank Worthington played for many clubs across Yorkshire and was much-loved.
His career included a spell at Leeds United, where he scored 14 goals in just 32 games.
The 22-mile Worthington Walk on October 16 will raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society and Yorkshire Air Ambulance and will take in the stadiums of three clubs Frank played for.
Starting at Elland Road, participants will make their way to FC Halifax Town’s the Shay, before finishing at Huddersfield Town’s ground, the John Smith’s Stadium.
Among those taking part are Frank’s older brothers Dave, 76, and Bob, 74, who live in Ripponden near Halifax, sister Julie, 64, of Chipping Norton, near Oxford, and Fank’s daughter Kim-Malou, who lives in Sowerby, near Halifax.
Dave, a former professional footballer, said: “Frank lived in Huddersfield for 30 years and was loved by people there, so we wanted to do something in his memory whilst raising money for two very worthy causes.
“Frank was only 52 when he started having memory problems, although his dementia diagnosis came much later. But close family members knew all was not well.
“I remember meeting him to play golf one day and he opened the boot of his car to show me a book signed by Jimmy Tarbuck that he was rather proud of. The following week he showed it to me again, and then again later. That’s when it really hit me that something wasn’t right.
“In the end, when his condition had deteriorated considerably, it was really sad. He wasn’t even able to speak to us. Bob and I saw him on Christmas Day and although we think he recognised us, he wasn’t able to let us know. We just held his hand and told him stories.”
“We are a close family and would like to thank everyone immensely for their messages of support at Frank’s passing and their kind and generous donations for two excellent charities in his memory.”
The late legend’s daughter Kim-Malou will take part in the Halifax to Huddersfield part of the walk, with her three children Maia, 21, Poppy, 18, and Hugo 15.
She said: “Dad was always such an upbeat, positive person to be around. Whenever I faced challenges growing up, he would stress the importance of ‘mind over matter’. I think that attitude and inner determination helped him to live with dementia for so long – and it is a philosophy he has passed on to me.”
More than 130 people are expected to join the Worthington Walk, some completing all 22 miles and others walking part of it.
They will set off at 5:15am from Elland Road, aiming to arrive at Huddersfield’s ground before their home game against Hull City, ending their journey with a lap of honour around the pitch before the fixture kicks off.
Dave, whose main club was Grimsby, added: “There’s been a lot of talk about heading footballs and dementia and in Frank’s case I think it may have been a contributing factor.
“However, there has to be more to it than that. Both myself and Bob played professional football too and we’re genetically similar to Frank, but neither of us have been affected.”
Huddersfield Town Ambassador and former player Andy Booth, the club’s third highest goalscorer with 150 goals, said: “The walk will be a fitting tribute to Frank, who was one of the club’s greatest players.
“He was massive character on and off the pitch and a real fans’ favourite. Long after his playing days were over he would come to games and it would take him three hours to leave the stadium because everyone wanted to talk to him – and he was such a gentleman that he made time for all of them.”
Ju Lee, Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society, said the organisation was "in awe" of those taking part in the Worthington Walk.
"The money raised will enable us to reach more people through our vital services, like the Dementia Connect support line, which is 0333 150 3456.
“Our services have been used more than six million times since March 2020 and have been a lifeline to thousands, but there are so many more who urgently need our help.”
A special Memorial Service for Frank, which will be attended by family, friends and members of the public, is due to take place at Halifax Minster on November 19 at 2:30pm.
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