A GROUP of football supporters are putting their rivalries aside in support of a County Durham teenager who has been undergoing treatment for leukaemia.

Joe Hardman, from Brandon, near Durham, was diagnosed with the cancer in October 2017 and underwent a course of treatment at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle.

Friends of the Hardman family have now teamed up to take part in the charity car rally Benidorm or Bust – and are taking part in two vehicles which have been decorated in the stripes of football rivals Sunderland and Newcastle.

Eight people are taking part in the event, including Joe’s dad Darren, a staunch Black Cats fan.

Newcastle supporter Neil Carr, from Brandon, said: “Joe and his dad support Sunderland and the rest of us support Newcastle but we’re bringing the teams together.

“It’s all about raising money for the children’s cancer ward at the RVI, where Joe had most of his treatment.

The Northern Echo:

Joe Hardman, 19, from Brandon

“We all just want to help. People have done it for Joe and we will be doing it for the people who need it next. It’s a bit of pay back really.”

This week marks a year since the 19-year-old had a stem cell transplant, following a donation by his younger sister Grace, 13.

He needed the transplant as part of his treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.

He is now recovering and is hoping to go back to college in September.

Joe was 17 when he was diagnosed with the cancer and had just started a plumbing course at New College Durham but has had to put his studies on hold while he has been undergoing treatment.

The Northern Echo:

The cars have been painted in the colours of Sunderland and Newcastle football clubs

Joanne Hardman, Joe’s mother, said: “The team has been brilliant. They’ve been going great guns.

“Although Joe is doing really well at the moment the RVI isn’t somewhere we’re going to forget about. It’s just giving something back for everything they’ve done for us and to make it a bit easier for other families and children if they end up in there, like we did.”

Team Joe will be starting the drive to Benidorm on May 14.

Mr Carr added: "We've always been to Benidorm on a plane and come back on a plane so we don't know what to expect."

The team will also be doing a sponsored walk from the Stadium of Light in Sunderland to St James' Park in Newcastle on Sunday, April 28 to boost their fundraising.

To find out more about their fundraising or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joanne-hardman2.