Gemma Lowery, mum of former Sunderland AFC mascot Bradley Lowery has spoken out on ITV's This Morning about a "disrespectful" incident that saw a football fan holding up an image of Bradley at a match.
Bradley was just six years old when he lost his battle with Neuroblastoma in 2017 after capturing the hearts of the nation with best friend and former Sunderland player Jermain Defoe.
Sheffield Wednesday fan Dale Houghton, 31, admitted a public order offence at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court following the incident and District Judge James Gould told him all sentence options were open, including a prison sentence.
Joined by former Sunderland AFC player Jermain Defoe, the pair spoke publicly about the hurt and upset the incident has caused.
Gemma said: "It was very mixed emotions really, I was obviously sad that Bradley was being used in such a negative way because I'm continuing his legacy in a positive way.
"To see the negativity around it, I was really angry and upset. It was hard to believe to be honest."
Gemma then went on to admit that initially, she had decided not to prosecute, instead thinking the backlash on social media was enough and their families should be left alone.
However, this soon changed after a discussion with a police officer.
She explained: "The thing that changed my mind was that the policewoman said 'you need to think about this because what if it happens to another family' because what happens if it happens to another family", she said.
"The whole point of the Bradley Lowery Foundation is so I can support people so they don't have to go through what I went through. So that was why I decided that there needs to be consequences and the law needs to deal with it."
Hosts of the show then pointed out that the fan referred to the incident as "banter".
Gemma replied: "In football, there is going to be banter, there's no denying that. However, there's banter and there's being disrespectful. And that was disrespectful."
Jermain Defoe added: "It was difficult for me to understand it, just the human side. When I actually saw the images, I didn't really know what to say because I couldn't believe it."
However, Gemma was quick to praise Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday football fans for raising an astonishing £28,000 for the Bradley Lowery Foundation, which she says will go towards building a holiday home for sick children.