The man who played the key role in setting up a symbol of hope in the aftermath of the Bradford City fire is to be honoured on the Valley Parade pitch.
Professor David Sharpe founded the Burns Unit at the University of Bradford after seeing the devastation caused by the disaster in 1985.
Now, his contribution to the unit’s beginnings and its success – as well as its close association with Bradford City Football Club, will be honoured in a ceremony on the pitch at Valley Parade during half-time at the Bantams’ last home game of the season, against Crawley Town on April 26.
As part of the ceremony, Prof Sharpe will be presented with a testimonial volume including memories and appreciations of the work of the unit over the years, and his role within it.
Prof Sharpe recently retired following a distinguished career as director of the University of Bradford Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit.
He was inspired to create the unit after he led the surgical response to the fire. Plastic surgeons from around the UK were drafted in, and on the Monday after the fire Prof Sharpe and his team began treating the wounded.
They operated on about 25 people that first day, and 80 patients needed skin grafts that week.
Since then, the unit has become a centre of excellence for research and good practice, despite receiving no public funding and being reliant on donations. An appeal in 2011, orchestrated by Bradford City Football Club and backed by the Telegraph & Argus to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster, raised £167,775.37 to ensure the mid-term future of the unit.
That appeal, said Prof Sharpe, would allow the unit to continue for another five to ten years. It was kicked off by City’s co-director Mark Lawn and the then-manager Stuart McCall in August 2009, and was run by the club’s operations director David Baldwin.
McCall’s dad, Andy, was injured in the fire.
In 1995, a Telegraph & Argus appeal raised £105,000 – more than double the original £50,000 target – that kept the unit going for another three years.
Also, at the Crawley game next month, the Bantams’ annual collection for the unit will take place. And Prof Sharpe’s successor as director of the unit, plastic surgeon Ajay Mahajan, will be at the match.
If anyone has any material they think could be used in the volume that will be presented to Prof Sharpe, or if you want more information on the project, contact info@bcfcsupporters board.co.uk or Professor Sharpe Testimonial Volume, c/o Supporters’ Board, BCFC, Valley Parade, Bradford, BD8 7DY.
Contributions need to be submitted by March 31, and must include contact details such as phone number and email address.