Football mascot Bradley Lowery will team up with his best friend Jermain Defoe to celebrate his sixth birthday with a party.

The terminally ill Sunderland fan was in hospital on Wednesday when he turned six, but a “big bash” has been planned for this evening in his home village of Blackhall in County Durham.

England striker Defoe, who has carried Bradley onto the pitch when the boy has been mascot, will be at the party, along with 250 well-wishers in a marquee.

A highlight for many Sunderland fans this season has been seeing how Defoe and Bradley have struck up a remarkable friendship, which included the star footballer visiting the boy in hospital and agreeing to hop onto the bed for a cuddle.

Bradley, who has the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma, has touched millions of people and his battle has touched the world of football.

Fans of different clubs have sung his name at matches and held banners for him.

An appeal to send him Christmas cards ended with him receiving 315,000 through the post.

On Wednesday, his family posted a video of Bradley in hospital in which he smiled and put his thumbs up, saying: “Thank you for my birthday messages everyone.”