Right now every one of us needs that little bit of extra help and support. I know that and that is why it is so much harder putting this out there, but if there's a chance that it could help me make even the smallest of change to ease the pressures for my family's closest friends it will be worth it.
Chris Chilton is now 77. You probably won't need reminding, but he's still Hull City's record goalscorer - and is likely to remain so for any of our lifetimes - and along with my Dad and the likes of Ken Houghton, Ian Butler, Jock Davidson and various other legends to play under those wonderful teams in the 1960s and 1970s, he brought incredible joy to tens of thousands of Hullensians. 'Waggy and Chillo' are two names that just automatically go together like 'fish and chips' for everyone in Hull, though. So it is maybe fitting that the Wagstaff family are asking you to help the Chilton family in their hour of need. For years now Chris Chilton has suffered with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Over this past year, however, he has very sadly deteriorated immensely.
Chillo’s wife, who I simply know as “My Marg”, has given Chris THE best care along with the help of their children Gary and Gemma, but I have seen them struggle for far too long now – with no help from any professionals. The care just doesn’t seem to be out there unless you can pay for it and not all families are in that position. If Chris had been a professional footballer in the past 20 years, he'd probably have no financial worries. However, he played in an era where the players were as working class as the supporters.
I sat with Marg and Gary the other night, looking at how tired and worn out they both are. They have run themselves into the ground doing everything and anything they can to care for Chris. Marg is not in good health herself but in true Marg style, even when she has nothing she gives everything to everybody else.
Chris is currently in respite, a decision that was incredibly hard for the family to make, and something that has been put off for a very long time. However, the decision really was taken out of their hands for the sake of everyone involved and this was made possible by the help of Jeff Barmby and the Hull City Supporters Club who raised initial funds. Chris now needs 24-hour professional care. He is due to come out of the care home in which he has been staying and back home at the end of October, and during this time Marg has been trying to look into options whilst she has the headspace to think about what will be the best care for Chris, the care he so richly deserves. Anyone who has been in this situation knows that when your body and mind are running on empty... you are stuck!
Gary is looking at the very real possibility of selling his home to help fund his Dad's care, and with every passing day, this possibility becomes more of a reality. However, if the pressure of all of these decisions and terrifyingly changes could be eased, if we could group together to help the family to fund Chris's stay in this care home for a little while longer, a place where he has settled in so well (they all love him there - of course they do, he's Chris Chilton!), this would give Marg, Gary and Gemma peace of mind and the time to work out their options. I cannot tell you how much it would mean to them if we could achieve this.
It is very much not in Marg's nature to ask for help. The only person Marg calls upon is Jesus and those who know Marg will know she has been guided through many difficulties with the comfort of her saviour, but now is the time that hopefully the Hull City community, the people of Hull and East Yorkshire, can step in to help, even if it is just in a small way. Collectively we can ease this horrific situation that the Chiltons find themselves in, and do something for a man who gave such joy to so many. What a great feeling that would be.
When I lost my beautiful Mum in 2007 to breast cancer, Marg was one of the last people to see her. My Mum had gone into a deep sleep and Marg held her hand and spoke and prayed with her. I truly believe my Mum sent me Marg as a guardian angel, as I do not know what I would have ever have done without her. You all know what an incredible partnership my Dad and Chris had on the pitch, but the bond, the connection between the Chiltons and the Wagstaffs off the pitch is stronger still. Marg and my Mum were like two peas in a pod too, so the Waggy and Chillo partnership is way bigger than football, believe me!
My friendship with Marg has grown into something so very special and I wouldn’t be asking for help for Chris and his family if it wasn’t so desperately needed. Chris displayed the heart of a lion every time he stepped on a football pitch in the black and amber, and ever since he retired he's done anything he can for the club, either as a coach bringing on players like Billy Whitehurst, to playing in numerous charity fundraisers for the ex-Tigers. Chris has given his community so much throughout his life. It would be wonderful if that community could help him and his family out in their darkest hour.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I haven’t a clue what will happen if anything out of this but I’ve got to try.
- Carolyn Speare
- John Forth
- Hull City Supporters Trust
- Hull City Retro Members Club
- Stephen Hill
Organiser and beneficiary
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