Radlett boy who survived cancer becomes Arsenal mascot
PUBLISHED: 08:47 08 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 12 August 2019
A nine-year-old Radlett schoolboy who survived cancer appeared as Arsenal's mascot at the Emirates Stadium.
Gunners fan Samuel Van Emden, who lives in Shenley and attends Radlett Preparatory School, has undergone four years of treatment for cancer at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Watford General.
On Sunday, July 28, Samuel stepped onto the pitch at the 60,000 capacity stadium for the Emirates Cup match against Olympique Lyonnais. As part of Hertmsere Borough Council's partnership with the club, the mayor is able to nominate a child to be mascot once a year, and Samuel is the first to be invited.
Speaking before the match, Samuel's mum Charlie said: "My husband has always supported Arsenal and Samuel is a fan too, but we didn't want to take him to games when he was in treatment, because being in crowds would have been dangerous for him.
"This is only the second time he will have been at the stadium. He is so excited."
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She added after the match that Samuel had 'the time of his life' and got to meet his favourite player, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
During Samuel's treatment he received support from Camp Simcha, a charity for Jewish families with children who have life-threatening or life-changing conditions.
Mayor of Hertsmere Cllr Rabbi Alan Plancey, who has chosen Camp Simcha as his charity for the year, said: "I'm just delighted that Samuel has had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the team he loves.
"Camp Simcha is a brilliant organisation and one that is very close to my heart. They help brighten the lives of children and families like Samuel's, who are facing what for most people would represent their worst fears.
"It also is thrilling to know that through Hertsmere Borough Council's highly successful sports partnership with Arsenal, we will be able to offer this opportunity to other children in the future."
At Camp Simcha, Samuel and his sister Ella took part in art classes, outings and family retreats, allowing them to have fun and family time during treatment.
Camp chief executive Neville Goldschneider said: "We're glad that with the help of our Honorary Patron Rabbi Plancey and Arsenal Football club, we could bring some more smiles to Samuel."