You’ll no doubt recall that back in February, the football club received a heart-warming letter from a young Swindon Town fan addressed to striker Harry McKirdy with 26p attached, revealing his mum was unable to afford to bring him to games.
We began a nationwide online search to track down ‘Joe’, sharing the story on our website and across our social media channels, with our Twitter post alone clocking up more than 17,900 likes and over 5,000 shares.
Unfortunately, despite our efforts and the support of the public and footballing community, we were unable to trace the six-year-old and brought our pursuit to a conclusion.
As well as setting up a Just Giving page, a GoFundMe fundraising site was also formed by Swindon Town fan Mark Bevan, with donations arriving thick and fast on both, and we’ve managed to raise a staggering £9,819.22.
We’ve decided to donate half the sum to the Swindon Food Collective – a local independent food bank that feeds more than 7,500 people each year, with one third of those children. The charity are also one of our club partners.
The other half has been given to the football clubs Community Foundation, who will be able to continue their work giving children and families similar to Joe the opportunity to experience a matchday package at The County Ground and providing professional coaching to more than 300 kids.
We recently held a presentation where our Chief Executive Officer, Rob Angus, joined Jon Holloway from the STFC Community Foundation and presented a cheque to Cher Smith, Manager of the Swindon Food Collective.
Many of you will also be aware we have setup a food donation point in the club shop too, which is used regularly to help those that need it most.
Cher Smith, said: “We’re extremely grateful for this generous donation and what a fantastic amount raised by the people of Swindon.
“The last twelve months have seen a steep rise in the numbers of people we are helping. Last year we fed 5,617 between July 2020 and June 2021 and the increase has been noticeable since then, peaking at 8,804 so far, with over 108,271 tonnes of food donated.
“Without support such as this our ability to expand and meet the need would not have been possible. It allows us to continue to give out food to those that are facing a crisis, at the time and in locations where they need it most, so thank you to everyone."
Head of the STFC Community Foundation, Jon Holloway, said: “Although sadly Joe hasn’t been tracked down, the generous donations from football fans and the public will now enable many children and their families to experience a VIP day out at their local professional football club.
“The first event has been planned for the Salford City match where we will host children and their families that have been identified from our partner schools as in need of support.
“We very much look forward to giving everyone a great match day experience and we’ll have more young people join us throughout the season.”
We’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you once again to everyone who helped us spread the word around Joe’s story, and for everyone who has pledged to the fundraising efforts.
The money is already going a long way to providing opportunities to young people and their families they may otherwise never of had.