The Lincolnshire Grassroots Football Community Has Raised Thousands For BHF
With 2024 now here, we've reflected on some of the amazing work done by the Lincolnshire grassroots football community in raising valuable money for the British Heart Foundation - Lincolnshire FA's official charity partner - across the last 12 months, and look ahead to the next 9 months of the partnership.
In a time where cardiac incidents are becoming more common in football, both on the pitch and by supporters, the Lincolnshire FA want to raise awareness and understanding on heart health and CPR alongside helping to fund the lifesaving research.
Since BHF was founded in 1961, the number of people who die from heart and circulatory diseases has halved. By funding research across six decades, they’ve helped keep millions of hearts beating and millions of families together.
The '50 for 50' challenge is an opportunity for clubs to embrace some fun and fundraising, get outdoors and help beat heartbreak forever.
Heart and circulatory diseases affect over 7.6 million people across the UK, with 160,000 of those living in Lincolnshire alone. However, many of these conditions are often viewed as unseen or non-life threatening.
January saw the Lincolnshire FA team take on BHF's 100km Challenge, in which individuals are asked to walk, run or swim 100km between Boxing Day and 31st January - all whilst raising life-saving money for BHF. Many of the staff team completed the challenge, including former Head of Football Development, Steph Powell, who smashed her own target of 500km!
Before the raffle, the players took part in a game of walking football no Market Rasen Leisure Centre’s excellent 3G pitches. It was at this event that we met Andrew Shaw and Roley Thompson, who play Walking Football for Grimsby Ancient Mariners and Wolds Wanderers. They now share a rare bond that not many people will be able to replicate, after Andy saved Roley's life after he collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest whilst playing football.
You can read Andy & Roley's story here. We also met Ian Lang.
"When I retired, things slowed down and I started taking everything easy. I started putting weight on, getting up to about eighteen and a half stone. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I was determined that it wasn’t going to stop me. I made some lifestyle changes; eating habits, that type of thing. I got some weight off but then it slowed down, and I couldn’t seem to get it any lower."
Ian began to notice the difference that Walking Football was having on his health, and this was soon confirmed by his doctor.
"I had my five year check-up, and they told me it’s definitely improving. They kept me under observation, and two years later they told me they could take me off the diabetes medication. I had put my diabetes into remission, and I was down to fourteen and a half stone. I started going to walking football once a week, and I now play four times a week."
February also saw Lincolnshire FA host a Women's Walking Football Festival, raising funds and awareness for the charity. The festival was followed by a raffle, full of exciting prizes provided by local clubs and businesses. The festival raised the important message around the stark inequalities in awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of heart attacks that are needlessly killing women in the UK.
Over a ten-year period, more than 8,200 women in England and Wales died needlessly following a heart attack. They could have been saved if they had received the same quality care as men. Coronary heart disease kills twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK, and a woman is admitted to hospital following a heart attack every 15 minutes.
The festival proved to be a fantastic success, with £800 raised and everyone leaving with a smile on their face.
"What an amazing charity Ladies Walking football festival today at Carrs Grammar School, Sleaford! Great organised event! The ladies representing Lincoln Invictus/ Birchwood today enjoyed the day and helping to collect funds for the Heart Foundation."
In August, we launched the '50 for 50' campaign - looking for 50 clubs to raise £50 to help reach a goal of £2,500 during the next football season. Reggie Aslin, from Grimsby, helped us launch the '50 for 50' campaign along with former deputy chief medical officer and new Chair of Lincolnshire FA, Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam. The launch was hosted at a Comets session, hosted by Lincoln Invictus Inclusive Football Club.
Reggie’s mum Michelle, who works at Reggie’s school, said her son was diagnosed with a condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) when she was 20 weeks pregnant.
“It was really scary as we’d never heard of this condition or anything like it,” said Michelle.
“We were devastated but we knew that having surgery as soon as possible after he was born was the thing that would give him the best chance in life”.
Reggie was born in September 2016 via c-section, weighing 9lb 12oz, and just a few days later, when he was only four days old, he had his first surgery on his heart. This was followed by further surgery when he was six months old and again when he was six.
Unfortunately during the latest surgery, Reggie suffered a series of strokes which have impacted him physically and cognitively. This includes being left visually impaired.
Reggie was later given an amazing opportunity from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be one of the official mascots for the England v Australia men's friendly at Wembley Stadium on Friday 13th October. He walked out with the captain that evening, Jordan Henderson.
In October, Grimsby Borough Juniors completed a 5-mile walk from Cleethorpes Holiday Park to Cleethorpes Pier. One team completed a sunset walk on Friday 6th October, and then 4 teams completed a sunrise walk on Saturday 7th October. The club raised an outstanding £1,200 for the campaign.
Mark Crome, Manager at Grimsby Borough Juniors, said:"As a club, the British Heart Foundation is already a charity very close to our heart after the loss of a wonderful grandparent and supporter, to a heart attack. Last year, alongside our sister club Grimsby Borough Girl’s and Ladies, we held a charity match to raise money for a defibrillator which will soon be placed near a grassroots football venue.
So we jumped at the chance to support the Lincolnshire FA 50 for 50 initiative, and support local boy and friend of our club Reggie whose journey we have followed in recent years.
Our fabulous kids and many of their parents took to Cleethorpes beach to walk 5 miles either at sunset or sunrise and we’re delighted with the amount we’ve raised from generous family and friends.
Grassroots teams can often be the ones reaching out for support from our community, so it’s lovely to give something back to such an important charity. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who organised, joined in or donated.”
November saw Lincolnshire FA host our annual Grassroots Football Awards, in which a charity raffle took place to win a variety of prizes including a signed and framed picture of the 1966 England World Cup winning squad. A total of £1,340 was raised on the night, and Neil Birkett was the lucky winner of the signed photo.
So far, the '50 for 50' campaign has raised £3,275 - smashing the initial £2,500 target set out for the initiative. Clubs that have donated to the cause are Burgh Athletic Juniors, Colsterworth Colts JFC, Keelby United, Healing Hotspurs FC, Ancaster Athletic, Stamford Strollers, Hykeham Tigers U8's, Holbeach United Community Sports Academy, Louth Town Football Club, Immingham Pilgrims AFC, Grimsby Borough Juniors, and Lincoln Invictus Inclusive FC. The family of Reggie Aslin have also donated to the cause.
All of this hard work and unbelievable generosity means that the grassroots football community of Lincolnshire, from its clubs to its County FA, have so far raised a total of £7,264 for the British Heart Foundation - leaving just under £3,000 left to raise of the £10,000 target set out at the start of the two-year partnership.
The British Heart Foundation have also recently been shortlisted to the final stage of voting for Lincoln City FC's 2024 charity partner. Throughout the season, the club will be committed to helping two of the adopted charities to assist with fundraising activities and events which are aimed to raise their profile in support of obtaining further local support.
Examples of how City plan to support include but are not exclusive to, matchday bucket collections, player appearances and special fundraising events.
The vote is online and closes on Wednesday 3rd January 2024. You can vote before the deadline here.
Melanie Meik, Fundraising Manager for Lincolnshire & Rutland at the British Heart Foundation, said:“This partnership with the Lincolnshire FA has continued to inspire me. The incredible people I have met across the county of all ages living with heart conditions and those that have sadly lost loved ones. Everyone is determined and driven to make a difference through fundraising for lifesaving and life changing research and defibrillators.
Grassroots football is truly humbling. The dedication of the volunteers and the social impact that football has on people of all ages and genders in the community is unbelievable. A huge thank you to all of the football teams and individuals that have supported this partnership so far, we would love to reach £10,000 in fundraising in our final year. Now is the time to get involved, with heart month just around the corner and many fixtures in the calendar”
To be one of the first to receive the latest grassroots football news from Lincolnshire, and to receive exclusive offers and discounts from Lincolnshire FA partners – click here