Bereaved families walk from Sheffield to Leeds in memory of Kimberly Wadsworth
More than 30 people harmed by gambling – including families who have lost loved ones to gambling-related suicide – walked over 40 miles from Sheffield to Leeds via five football clubs to demand gambling reform on October 14 and 15.
They were walking in memory of Kimberly Wadsworth from Leeds who was 32 when she took her life in 2018 after becoming addicted to gambling. Kimberly’s addiction started on fixed-odd betting terminals before playing online casino games, where she was made a “VIP” and plied with “free bets.”
They called at five football clubs – Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Barnsley, and Leeds United – and urged them to reject gambling sponsorship and to join the campaign to end all gambling advertising in football.
Last year, Public Health England estimated there are 409 gambling-related suicides each year in England alone, accounting for nearly eight per cent of completed suicides in 2021. All the walkers were either in recovery from gambling addiction or have been harmed by someone else’s gambling.
Kimberly’s mum, Kay, was joined on the walk by other families who have lost loved ones to gambling.
“My beautiful girl was killed by this shameless industry. It must stop – we cannot keep losing our children to these predators.”Kay Wadsworth
Kay continued: “I am proud to walk in Kimberly’s memory with people who have suffered the harm and devastation that gambling addiction brings. These harmful gambling products are designed to hook people in, regardless of their background, so we are calling on football to stop promoting them to millions of young fans. We’ll be ending the walk at Leeds United on Saturday, which was Kimberly’s team.”
James Grimes, formerly addicted to gambling and founder of The Big Step campaign, said:
“This walk is a reminder to the government and football that we are not going away. Bereaved families and those of us harmed by gambling are demanding the government commit to make the changes that will save lives and prevent more people from going through what we have had to endure. We encourage all five clubs on the route to back our campaign and kick gambling advertising out of football.”
“Above all, we are walking for Kimberly and all those who are no longer with us because of gambling.”James Grimes
The walk was covered by several high-profile national news and sports outlets, including The Guardian, The BBC and The Athletic.