An “incredible” amateur footballer who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) as a teenager wants to “do his part” to help people suffering with the condition.
Ashley Miller, 30, from Wallasey, was diagnosed with MS in 2010, when he was just 18. The condition affects the brain and spinal cord and is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults, impacting more than 130,000 people in the UK.
At the time of his diagnosis, Ashley was a promising footballer, who had gone through the amateur ranks under the guidance of manager Dave Shallcross.
Dave told the ECHO: “Ash is a friend of my son’s. They went to primary school together and, when I started managing the local junior team, Greenleas JFC, Ash was one of my players. From the age of about nine until 14, he was a really good player and used to get a lot of scouts looking at him.”
Ashley became a well-known figure within the Wirral’s amateur setup, playing for both Poulton Victoria FC and New Brighton A.F.C. before he began developing symptoms of MS. Dave said: “He was coping at first but has gradually got worse and worse. Now he’s wheelchair bound, it’s affected his speech and he has a 24-hour carer.”
Despite his symptoms having grown progressively worse, Ashley is keen to help others living with the condition, and approached his former manager to help set up a fundraiser. Dave said: “Earlier this year, he came to me and said he’d like to get the old team together and try and raise some money for MS and I thought it was a great idea.”
With support from the Wirral MS society and other local businesses, Dave has organised a charity football tournament which will see Ashley’s ex-teammates, managers and opposition players face off at Tranmere Rovers’ Solar Campus training ground this weekend. The event has already raised more than £1,600 for the Wirral MS Society, and Ashley is thrilled that his idea is going to benefit service users across the region.
He told the ECHO: “When I was diagnosed, it was a horrible time. I came up with this idea because I want funding for the MS society. I want to do my part. It will be amazing to see the lads together as a team again.”
Friend and former teammate, Ben Winstanley, has described Ashley as “an incredible person who continues to live with such a positive mindset on life”. And this positive mindset is set to help the Wirral MS Society continue to provide fundamental support for people living with the condition on Merseyside.
John Galvin, who works for the society, said: “When Dave rang me and told me that he wanted to initiate this fundraiser in Ashley’s name we fully supported it. One thing has led to another, and we’ve already had quite a lot of money in.”
The charity tournament will take place this Sunday, May 22, at the Solar Campus Training Ground in Wallasey. For more information, or to donate, click here.