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Marc's special night

15 May 2013

End of season dinner concludes with a poignant presentation

AFC Wimbledon’s end of season dinner reached an emotional conclusion when three ex-servicemen presented player of the year Jack Midson with a portrait of himself.

Marc Wilkinson, Dave Parsons and Jim Hill (pictured left to right in the above image with Jack) regularly attend support sessions at Combat Stress, a Surrey-based charity which specialises in the treatment of British Armed Forces veterans with mental health problems.

However, football, particularly the trio’s love of AFC Wimbledon, have also helped them in recent months and manager Neal Ardley, his assistant Neil Cox, and Commercial Director, Ivor Heller, popped along to the charity’s centre in Leatherhead to offer their support.

It was during that visit when Neal Ardley came up with the idea of bringing Marc into the club’s training ground to meet first-team players and staff. With Jack Midson having described listening to Marc’s story as “inspirational”, particularly at a time when Wimbledon were fighting relegation, there was a poignant end to Saturday’s celebrations.

Marc, who has been a Dons supporter for 30 years, gave a speech on Saturday in which he thanked the club for all their efforts and he today told the official website about what AFC Wimbledon’s involvement has meant to him.

“I am a season ticket holder at Wimbledon and this all started in January when I attended a match,” he said. “Combat Stress had asked us at the time if there was anything we could think of that would bring us back to a good place. I had seen a picture on the official website of Jim and I in the crowd at Manchester during the play-off final and I asked Ivor for help in getting a copy of the picture. Ivor was taken aback by my story and offered his support.

“Not long after this ‘Ards’, ‘Coxy’ and Ivor came to a session when I was attending a programme for ex-servicemen with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. It was then that Neal asked me to come in and give a talk to the players. Wimbledon had not been playing very well at the time and he said it would be good for the players to hear from me if they thought that they were having a tough time.

“Since my time in Afghanistan I have suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder. I have had to have 27 operations on my leg after suffering injuries during an explosion on 20 August, 2009. I would go as far as to say that all of this has saved my life. My Mum and Dad were there on Saturday and it meant a lot to me. I am a big Wimbledon fan and the players are my heroes. For ‘Ards’, Ivor and Jack to say the things that they have about me is an honour.”

Jack Midson said: “Sometimes when you are struggling you realise that there are people worse off than you. Marc came in one day and what he said inspired me.”

 The portrait Jack received (picture above by Zoe Linkson) was painted by Jim Hill and Wimbledon’s top scorer said he really appreciated the gesture. 

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