MEMBERS of the Bury FC Disabled Supporters Club have cause to celebrate this New Year after kind-hearted businessmen paid for repairs to their van when it broke down.
Devoted Bury FC follower Stan McGowen, aged 67, has been driving the length and breadth of the country to help disabled supporters watch their favourite club for 20 years.
Little Lever builder Stan takes fans and volunteer helpers to every away match in a specially-decorated Bury FC Disabled Supporters Club minibus.
But last month, on a trip to watch the Shakers take on Exeter City, the fan belt and pulley wheel disintegrated.
Stan managed to manoeuvre the vehicle off the motorway and crawl at 5mph to the ground in time to watch the match.
Afterwards the van was towed home to the JD Stadium with the two disabled supporters and eight helpers travelling home in two people-carriers provided by the breakdown company.
The directors of Pymgate Developments Ltd got in touch with Stan and offered to pay for the repairs, costing £500, and to fund the van’s annual services.
Stan said: “It was very good of Pymgate Developments to help us as £500 of repairs is a substantial amount. It was a big breakdown, but luckily we were able to watch the match before the van was towed home.”
Stan’s son Paul, aged 42, has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound, meaning until the age of 22 he had only been able to attend Bury’s home games — until Stan decided to change this.
Earlier this year Stan was honoured with a Buckingham Palace invite after the FA invited 150 football volunteers from across the UK to celebrate their achievements together.
Stan, who was also named supporter of the year by the Football League in 2007, became a Bury FC fan after meeting wife Zandra, who has always lived in Bury.
Since 1993 the family has held fundraising activities for the disabled supporters club including a 10km wheelchair push, several Manchester to Blackpool bike rides and an abseil down Manchester’s Piccadilly Hotel.
After hearing of the van’s sorry state, Pymgate Developments Ltd directors Graham Lightbown, Gary McDonald and Shaun Doherty felt compelled to help.
Graham said: “Being a Bury fan myself and recognising what Stan does for the club and the disabled supporters, I was keen to help. After we heard about the van breaking down we offered to pay for the £500 repairs and to pay the cost of servicing the vehicle each year in return for having our logo put on the van.
“This is a great cause to get involved with, and hopefully it will become a longstanding relationship.”