Ian "Beefy" Botham is what you would call a real character, a great cricketer and a leader on the sports field.
He is also one of those famous guys whom controversy seems to follow around everywhere, that is not so prevalent now though as when he was destroying batsmen and bowlers at the highest level. He was also able to play professional football making him the real all rounder; these achievements are similar to those of the great Denis Compton of Middlesex and England, a stylish cavalier batsman whom the crowds flocked to see. He was also the Great Denis Compton of Arsenal and England on the football field. This kind of sportsman comes along rarely and nowadays is almost unheard of so IMO Botham justifies his reputation as a great cricketer and a pro. footballer.
Years ago Botham visited a children’s hospital where he met some youngsters who were suffering form Leukaemia, the effect on him was profound, he has spoken often of how he had never appreciated how blessed him and his family had been and he resolved to do something to help. He continued to visit these kids and at the same time came up with a plan to raise money for Leukaemia Charities; he reckoned that he was famous enough to make it impossible for anyone to ignore his campaigns, he was right, and then some.
His chosen method of raising money was well publicised marathon walks, his team recruited celebrities to join in parts of the route as well as collecting cash as they went, they also secured sponsorship from large companies and individuals who were delighted to be associated with Botham’s name and charitable giving.
One of the regrets that I have always had is that I was never famous enough to use any celebrity I might have gained to do similar things, what an opportunity famous sportsmen and women as well as famous entertainers have to do some good by helping good causes. What a disappointment it is to see so many who do nothing except take the fame and the wealth and ignore the plight of those less fortunate than themselves.
Botham is back on the road for the fight against Leukaemia and he and the doctors and the scientists are winning, even though it is still the biggest killer disease of children in the UK the survival rates are improving constantly. I urge everyone to contribute and I urge the famous sports and entertainment stars to get involved.
Here is something I would normally avoid saying about someone who is a self declared Tory but, Ian Botham is a big man in the true sense of the word, thanks and best wishes to him and everyone involved.