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23rd Apr 2018

World’s first virtual mascot unveiled by Everton ahead of Newcastle game

What a lovely idea

Darragh Murphy

Everton gave an incredible memory to an even more incredible supporter on Monday evening.

Ahead of Everton’s Premier League clash against Newcastle, the world’s first virtual mascot was unveiled at Goodison Park.

Rather than holding hands with a young fan, Toffees captain Phil Jagielka walked on to the pitch on Monday carrying a robot which provided an unforgettable experience to 14-year-old Jack McLinden.

Young Jack suffers from Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a condition which confines him to a wheelchair.

Unable to speak and dependent upon an oxygen at all times, Jack was given the opportunity to accompany his heroes on to the Goodison playing surface thanks to “telepresence robot AV1” technology.

The system enabled Jack to communicate with Everton players via a microphone and speaker, while a camera offered him the opportunity to experience the trip down the tunnel from the comfort of his home.

Jack’s mother, Michelle Wignall, a WellChild ambassador, said: “Having the support from the amazing team at WellChild, from Esther our dedicated WellChild Nurse… means we’re never alone, isolated or without support.  We are thrilled that, through No Isolation and Everton Football Club, Jack was able to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.”

The technology, manufactured by Norwegian company, No Isolation, was designed to aid children and young adults with long-term illnesses by providing them the ability to virtually attend school and other social outings.

“The most important thing for everybody at the club is that we have had the opportunity, through this amazing technology and the work with No Isolation and WellChild, to do something incredible for an inspirational young Evertonian,” Everton’s head of engagement Scott McLeod said.

“We are thrilled to have had the chance to do this for Jack and we hope it has provided him with a memory he will always treasure.”