GETHIN Jones recalls the instant support he received from former Wanderer Stephen Darby on hearing his mum had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

The Bolton defender has just passed on a cheque for £35,496 to the Darby Rimmer Foundation from his own fundraising efforts in late 2021 as the family sought to get her specialist treatment in the US.

Karen Jones, a former midwife, had been diagnosed with MND in the July, and the family had initially set up JustGiving page to raise money which quickly caught the attention of Wanderers supporters.

Darby was told he had MND on September 12, 2018, whilst playing for Bolton, and has since set up a foundation which has raised hundreds of thousands towards research.

His support at such a crucial time, says Jones, will never be forgotten.

“I can’t thank Darbs enough,” he told The Bolton News. “The week my mum was diagnosed he was on the phone to me. My mum and dad had come to stay with me for the weekend and it is 20 minutes from Liverpool, so he came down for a coffee and basically told my mum that she had his support, 100 per cent whatever she needed.

“He had been diagnosed himself and I keep seeing the work the foundation does, the events they do, just keep raising money. It is something we want to keep supporting as a family.

“We have fought from the minute that my mum got diagnosed. We knew we had to get more money to go towards research, and the government need to help more.

“Honestly, the work that those guys do and the support they give to people with MND is amazing and I will never be able to thank Darbs enough.”

Jones is also hugely appreciative of the support offered by Wanderers and the club’s fans during such a difficult time.

“It is one year in a fortnight’s time,” he said. “The Christmas wasn’t too nice because we always had it together.

“It has been difficult but with the help of Sharon (Brittan), the manager, the players and the fanbase, it has helped me keep going.

“Her diagnosis happened at the start of pre-season, last season. But my mum always wanted me to get back into football straight away because it was something to concentrate on.

“Sadly, six months after she was diagnosed, she passed away. The club was so supportive, they gave me some time off and, as I said before, the whole staff, all the players, came to the funeral and that really touched us as a family.

“After that I felt it was just right I came back into football and concentrate on what I want to do every day and make my mum proud.”

Jones and his family have vowed to continue fundraising in the future, inspired by the work Darby and his co-founder Chris Rimmer have done.

He said: “We are coming up with a lot more ideas that we want to support the Darby Rimmer Foundation, the MND Association, and there are a lot of things we want to keep doing because honestly it is a horrible illness and one we need to find a cure for, with more research.”