Family’s tribute to ‘gentle giant’ and Raith fan Aidan Sutherland

Aidan celebrates a Leigh Griffiths goal for Scotland against England at Hampden.
Aidan celebrates a Leigh Griffiths goal for Scotland against England at Hampden.

The family of a young Kirkcaldy footballer, who died just two days after his 20th birthday, is aiming to raise awareness of diabetes.

Aidan Sutherland died on July 3 during a trip to Newcastle with friends, after he fell ill and his blood sugar levels soared.

Aidan with dad John.

Aidan with dad John.

Now, as his close relatives pay tribute to him, they say they have been overwhelmed by the support of Aidan’s friends.

The family has also been heartened by the fact that Raith fan Aidan has touched four lives in particular, as his organ donor status means that he has helped save others.

Aidan’s dad John said: “We didn’t have enough information. We thought we had it sussed.

“We’d had his sugar levels low before but never too high.

As a family we all knew how to handle Aidan when his sugar levels were too low. But not once did we come across it, or did Aidan know what was happening to his body when they went high.

John Sutherland

“It was mainly type 1 that Aidan suffered from. As a family we all knew how to handle Aidan when his sugar levels were too low.

“But not once did we come across it, or did Aidan know what was happening to his body when they went high.

“They’d never been high, so he didn’t know how to react to it, or what to expect from it.

“He just thought that it was part of his birthday celebrations and maybe overdone it.”

Aidan's plaque.

Aidan's plaque.

Said Aidan’s aunt Naideen Forrest: “Even his friends were aware of what to do if Aiden had a hypo (low blood sugar). But they wouldn’t have recognised the opposite.

“I don’t think there’s enough awareness of Type 1 diabetes.

“We want to get the message across to young people with type 1 and bang home to them how life-threatening this is.

“Only 12 per cent of all diabetics are type 1,” said Lynn. “There’s so much promotion to prevent Type 2, that many people may not know about Type 1 unless they had it.”

Speaking of the wave of support the family has had after Aidan’s passing, John said: “It’s beautiful, it really is. On the day, when word broke out on social media of Aidan’s passing, friends and team-mates all descended on the Novar Bar to have a drink in his honour.

“In July there was a charity match which he was meant to be playing in.

“We had the game, then all the boys descended on the house.

“That way we all then became known to each other so there were no strangers come the day of the funeral.

“Aidan had signed for a donor card when he was 17. That filled us with pride.”

The family has now received a letter from the NHS informing them that Aidan has gone on to help four people.

“Four people, four families and wider groups of friends,” said John.

“It was just phenomenal because it gave us a lift right when we needed it.

“At the funeral I was just filled with that much pride with the numbers that were there, it was amazing.”

Naideen added: “We reckon that from all the football teams and friends that Aidan had, there must have been about 360 people there.

“Everybody that you spoke to only spoke of Aidan in such a positive, loving way.

“They just said he was a gentle giant. He didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody.”

At Aidan’s funeral on July 20, John says there was a collection for Diabetes UK Scotland which raised £1000.

John added: “He was my best mate, my wingman. We would go to the football, go away together for the Flyers or Rovers.

“His spirit really has given us so much strength.

“We’re all heartbroken, it should never have happened to him.

“I just keep thinking it’s not what I’ve lost this month it’s what I’ve gained over the last 20 years; just lovely memories.”

A plaque has been installed beneath Aidan’s seat at Starks Park.

A memorial match will be held at the ground to raise money for the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation on October 22.

Raith Rovers chairman Alan Young said: “It’s always sad when a Rovers supporter passes away, even more so when this happens at a young age. “Raith Rovers FC are honoured to be able to assist in hosting a memorial match in Aidan’s memory, and hope that this is well attended by Aidan’s family, friends and fellow Rovers supporters to remember Aidan and pay tribute to him at Starks Park.”

Cards for the family have been pouring in.

Cards for the family have been pouring in.

Aidan Sutherland

Aidan Sutherland