A vulnerable young woman who was terrorised in the street by a gang of yobs, is a special guest at the Leeds Rhinos v Catalan Dragons game tonight (Friday).
Amy Williamson, 23, who has learning disabilities, was jostled and bullied by the group of 20 teenage boys on bikes, as she walked home alone in Swarcliffe, after an activity club.
She was left shaken up and distraught and her confidence shattered, leaving her scared to go out on her own, after they swore and hurled explicit abuse at her.
West Yorkshire Police said today that inquiries were ongoing into the harassment-related hate crime.
The Rugby League club has now invited Amy and 26 of her friends to watch the game, after Rhinos chiefs were disgusted by what had happened.
Amy will also bring the match ball out on Friday night alongside her favourite player Rhyse Martin.
Delighted Amy, who has Down Syndrome, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was a shock when the players turned up, but a lovely surprise about the tickets. This is a really nice thing to happen after the awful experience. I am feeling ok about it now and I am really excited about the match. We are all getting picked up by a bus."
“I’m going to take the ball out with Rhyse onto the pitch."
It is an important game in Leeds Rhinos’ quest to move away from their Super League relegation zone.
Amy met three star Rhino players Ava Seumanufagai, Rhyse Martin and Wellington Albert, when they visited the Leep Cafe to give her the tickets.
Dan Busfield, of Leeds Rhinos Foundation, said: “We feel that Amy’s resilience should be rewarded and her friends at the café should come with her to the game. She has been really brave.
“The players went to meet Amy and her friends to hand over tickets to the whole group.
“First Bus, our foundation partners, will also kindly be supplying transport to the game.”
Rhinos chiefs also said they would be willing to work with the ‘bullies’ responsible with Dan Busfield adding: “At the foundation we work closely with Leeds City Council in our restorative approach, so we would also be more than willing to work with the perpetrators of the bullying, to help them understand the effect it has on other people.”
They made the invitation after reading the original story in the YEP.
Amy’s mum Karen Horner, has since launched a Facebook campaign to combat anti-social behaviour called Keep Swarcliffe Safe.
Karen said: “Everyone has been brilliant since the incident and we know the police are still investigating.
“I am calling for a public space protection order in this area to prevent this sort of thing and to make people accountable for their behaviour.
“Amy has been really shaken up by everything but is getting her confidence back again. The boys had blocked Amy’s path and made it difficult for her to walk past. A driver got out of his car to confront the teenagers and Amy ran home.
Karen added: “I know it’s not just Amy that’s being targeted. I just want people to come forward with information and make the group accountable for their actions.
“I have had enough, it’s time we did something about it. Amy should be able to feel safe to walk around without this happening.”