Barrie Wells Trust initiative is one of the great feel-good stories in British athletics
Whether it’s fantasy super-heroes at the O2 arena or real-life super-heroes at the Olympic Stadium, the Box4Kids initiative is bringing entertainment and joy to seriously ill children all over the UK.
The scheme was started by sporting benefactor Barrie Wells in 2010 when he opened his executive box at Liverpool FC’s home of Anfield so that sick youngsters could enjoy VIP treatment on match days.
Since then, Box4Kids has spread to rugby, tennis, cricket, music concerts and athletics.
This month, for example, children will see Ironman, Thor, Captain America and Spider-Man at the Marvel Universe show in the O2 arena, whereas back in July youngsters were treated to watching Usain Bolt, Laura Muir, Kendra Harrison and other top track and field athletes at the Müller Anniversary Games.
“It was amazing to see Laura Muir breaking the British record out on the track and then soon afterwards there she was right there next to us,” says Wells. “In a year with so many negative stories in athletics, it’s nice to have something good like this happening.
“Niels de Vos from British Athletics was a great help and the kids went down to see Usain Bolt in the warm-up area,” he adds. “It was through a glass wall and the kids were photographing him but then Usain whipped around and frightened them on purpose before jogging away with his thumbs up and a big smile. To see Usain Bolt do that up close was incredible.”
Wells made his fortune in insurance and has supported athletes like Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Goldie Sayers (both of whom are pictured above with Wells) plus Jessica Ennis-Hill and Jenny Meadows in recent years, with heptathlete Johnson-Thompson the patron of Box4Kids.
Now, he is hopeful of accessing a box at the IAAF World Championships in London as Box4Kids and the Barrie Wells Trust goes from strength to strength, riding a wave of goodwill.