A lifelong Sheffield Wednesday fan has focused his photographic skills on helping raise money for St Luke’s by producing an exclusive photo book of matchday images from Hillsborough.
Neil Kitson, a professional photographer who has taken pictures for the club on matchdays over the last five seasons, wanted to help St Luke’s after seeing the news of how charities were struggling to fundraise this year.
The result is a 50-page limited edition book called ‘The Ultimate Season Ticket’ which takes readers on a photographic journey of Sheffield Wednesday’s last five seasons.
With only 500 numbered copies available the book is selling fast. The price is £10, plus postage and packaging with all proceeds going to St Luke’s.
St Luke’s remains close to Neil’s heart after his mum, Pauline, was cared for by the St Luke's team in the final months of her life.
Explaining the inspiration behind the project, Neil said: “I knew I wanted to do something to help after watching a report on how difficult it has been for organisations involved in the care and support of cancer patients and their families during the pandemic.
“This reminded me of my mum and the wonderful care she received from St Luke’s.
“That was just the start of things and I can’t believe how we have managed to produce a book in the space of a month.”
From Neil’s initial idea in November the book was created and printed in just over three weeks meaning it could be sold in time for Christmas.
Neil is keen to point out that the book simply would not have been possible without the help of friends across the city, many of which have their own links to St Luke’s and wanted to help in any way they could.
“There are too many people to mention but I just want them all to know how grateful I am,” said Neil.
“I feel very lucky to have so many friends - both old and new - that have transformed my initial idea into a reality. I could not have done this without you.”
Neil even managed to arrange sponsorship from Sheffield based firms Brown McLeod Chartered Accountants and Electric Canyon Management, who helped to cover the production costs, meaning all proceeds go to St Luke’s.
A special bonus has been the involvement of Sheffield musician and Wednesday fan Richard Hawley, who heard about the project and wanted to be involved.
Richard, whose dad Dave was also cared for by St Luke’s, will sign all 500 copies of the book.
Talking about his support for the book, Richard said: “Neil has done a fantastic job in pulling all this together so quickly. The book is brilliant and I feel privileged to have played a small part in this project, which raises money for a very special place that remains close to the hearts of thousands of people across Sheffield.”
In what has been a challenging year for everyone, Neil hopes The Ultimate Season Ticket reminds Owls fans of that matchday feeling that many have missed out on over this year.
“As a photographer and Wednesday fan I am in a lucky position to see and capture what it means to be at Hillsborough and be part of that family,” Neil said.
“My hope is that through my pictures people can be transported back to Hillsborough providing that tingle every Wednesday fan feels on matchday.
“That first sight of the ground, the clickety click of the turnstiles, the anticipation, the humour, the ecstasy….and the heartache. The memories. The Wednesday Family.”
To pre-order a copy of Neil’s book, please email: [email protected]
The picture of Neil is by Harriet Massey.