Family of former Clarets captain John Pender 'overwhelmed' by support in wake of motor neurone disease diagnosis

The family of Burnley’s 1994 Wembley-winning captain John Pender, who has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, has paid tribute to the ‘overwhelming’ support received from Clarets fans.

By Chris Daggett
Thursday, 18th November 2021, 8:58 am
John and Denise Pender with children Lauren, Nikki, Danny and grandson Connor
John and Denise Pender with children Lauren, Nikki, Danny and grandson Connor

‘Captain Fantastic’ as John was known to supporters, is now totally wheelchair-bound and his wife Denise, daughters Lauren, Jade and Nikki and son Danny, have launched a £10,000 JustGiving appeal to improve the former fans’ favourite’s quality of life.

In an emotional and heartfelt message on behalf of the Pender family, his daughter Lauren told the Express: “The outpouring of support, generosity and kind donations that our family has received has been overwhelming.

“We are incredibly touched by the huge response received from the Clarets fans and from all of the football fans, especially those from the clubs which our dad played for.

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John Pender with his wife Denise.

"Our hearts have been warmed as we read, and continue to read, each message and memory of our dad. As our dad reads the messages he recalls many of the wonderful memories of the brilliant times in his career, which he treasures.

“His family reads each message with true pride. We cannot thank those who have supported us enough, but would like to personally extend a heartfelt thank-you to each and every person for the support, generosity and kind donations, which have truly lifted our dad’s spirits and in turn, ours.”

Thousands of pounds have already been donated to a special £10,000 JustGiving page appeal launched by John’s family with the aim of supporting his ‘quality of life’.

The only man to lead a victorious Burnley side up the old Wembley steps, John is now wheelchair-bound and cared for by his wife Denise.

‘Pends’ as he was fondly known by many Burnley fans led the Clarets during their historic Wembley Division 2 Play-off Final victory over Stockport County in 1994.

His wife and four children remain avid Clarets fans and spent many happy years living in the Ightenhill area of Burnley.

A family statement released this week said: Unfortunately, two years ago things turned for the worse for the Pender family and John started to lose his balance, fall over and struggle to use the left-hand side of his body. Things progressively got worse and after a lot of falls, John was ultimately diagnosed with a form of Motor Neurone Disease.

“John’s quality of life is unfortunately rapidly declining, and we would like to ask for your help to assist with John’s quality of life, increase his comfort and experiences while he still has the chance to do so. John committed his whole life to football, in particular Burnley, so we ask that you, as Clarets fans get behind ‘Captain Fantastic’, one last time so we can, together, help John improve his quality of life, comfort, and experience.

“Members of John’s family will be walking up Pendle Hill on January 15th, in their Burnley kits and are inviting Clarets fams to join them to raise awareness of MND - a disease that has also struck another popular ex-Claret Lenny Johnrose.