Guisborough Town FC have gone international… all in a very good cause in aid of a village school football team in the West African country of The Gambia.
It was the chance spotting of a post on Facebook which led to Guisborough Town becoming involved in a major initiative by staff at James Cook Hospital to sponsor children in The Gambia to go to school.
When Julie Garbutt, Secretary of Guisborough Town’s thriving Junior Section, saw the Facebook posting about the initiative, it touched her so much that she contacted the organisers of the worthy scheme to offer to help, which was enthusiastically accepted.
With no fewer than 12 junior football teams aged from Under-7 to Under-15 playing under the Guisborough Town banner, surplus football strips become available when fresh strips are bought for the new season.
So Julie quickly circulated messages around the various parents of the young players to ask if they would donate their old strips and the response was very positive.
“We soon managed to pull together enough shirts and other items such as track suit tops to be able to kit out the entire school team in Gambia.
“It was very heartening for us to think that they would be put to such good use four thousand miles away and they certainly have been very well received by all accounts,” added Julie.
The strips were rapidly collected, boxed up and taken to members of the James Cook Hospital charities team – consisting of 90 staff who work in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit – and the footballing parcel was quickly despatched off to the Gambia.
One of the members of the Hospital Charity Group, Lorraine Priestly, commented: “The young lads at the school in Gambia were so delighted and very proud to wear the Guisborough Town junior strips.
“The boys are so talented and eager to show off their footballing skills in their smart new shirts. Blessings to Guisborough Town Juniors for donating the shirts and the whole village sends their thanks and prayers to everyone at Guisborough Town,” said Lorraine.
Julie added: “I’m so pleased I got in touch with the James Cook charities team after seeing their story on Facebook to offer the shirts and the response from the parents of our junior teams was fantastic.
“We had to contact as many of our parents as quickly as possible to be able to catch the consignment of items that was being sent out to The Gambia and as usual they reacted brilliantly,” said Julie.
Guisborough Town Football Club Chairman Don Cowan said: “It is really heart-warming and humbling to hear such a positive message back from The Gambia via the James Cook Charities team and to see the delighted faces on the young footballers in Africa on their team photograph.
“We are very proud to think there are young footballers in West Africa running around pitches in their red and white strips with the Guisborough Town club badge on them!
“Our sincere thanks go to Julie and to all the parents of our Junior Section teams for such a magnificent gesture in helping young footballers less fortunate than ourselves,” added Don.
Photo: Schoolchildren from the village of Choya in The Gambia proudly wearing their Guisborough Town football strips, generously donated by the Club’s Junior Section.