BIG-HEARTED Stephen Picton will live the dream at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow after well-wishers turned the tables on the charity champion.
The kind cabbie’s close pals Samantha and Jonathan Robson have spent the week tirelessly trying to raise enough money to send Stephen and his dad, mum and step-mum to Cardiff for the Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland.
Stephen, 42, who is passionately proud of his Welsh roots, put a status on Facebook earlier this week saying he would love nothing more than to take his family to the big game.
The humble dad-of-four quickly took the status down when people started saying they would fundraise to send him on the trip.
But for his pal Jonathan the seed was sown, and he set off on a race against time to get enough donations to pay for the ticket and fund the fuel to get Stephen to Wales.
And after he got his hands on four tickets, Jonathan , 32, himself a taxi-driver, went to Stephen’s house and made one of his dreams come true.
“I honestly can’t put into words how happy I am,” said Stephen, who lives in the Blakelock Road area of Hartlepool with his wife Sandy.
“When I first found out about it I was angry, I didn’t want people to think I’m a charity and I was asking for people to do this for me.
“But I’m so, so happy. The people of Hartlepool never cease to amaze me.”
Proud Jonathan, a dad-of-four who lives in Caithness Road with his wife, Samantha, 31, beamed: “It’s the least he deserves for what he’s done for charity and for the people of Hartlepool.”
Jonathan raised £500 in a matter of hours and Stephen admitted he broke down into tears when his pal told him about the trip.
He wasn’t the only one.
When he told his dad James, 67, who lives in Wales, his mum Marion Braithwaite and his step-mum Irene Picton, that they were all going to the big game, they too wept with joy.
“All I’d said on Facebook was I would love nothing more than to be able to take them to the Wales against Scotland game this weekend,” said Stephen, who famously raised £50,000 for charity before his 40th birthday.
“When people started commenting saying they would fundraise for me, I deleted it straight away, I didn’t want people to think that is what I wanted, and then to be honest I didn’t think anything more of it.
“But I’m honestly so, so grateful.
“It will be one of the best days of my life!”
Kind Jonathan is still trying to raise even more cash to help to fund the travelling expenses and the expensive tickets for the four.
He thanked the businesses and individuals who have supported his efforts so far.
Anyone who wishes to add to the fund can call Jonathan on 07880 257174.