Young Kenyan orphans will have the borough close to their heart after being donated dozens of South Tyneside Football Club strips.
The strips were taken over to Kenya by members of the British School of Infantry (BSI) after an appeal went out for old kits, children’s gifts and toiletries.
John Whitehead, the football club’s assistant secretary, was spurred on to get involved with the mission by his South Tyneside Council colleague Karen King.
John, who also works as an internal auditor, said: “We always try to reuse our club’s kits as many times as we can, but there comes a point where the players just get too big for them so they no longer fit.
“We have nine or 10 teams within the club, so we had a fair few old strips, plus others then got involved and donated everything from Celtic tops to Man United ones and even some football boots.
“These were then all put together with the donations of pens, pencils, mosquitos sprays, which had been donated by Karen’s council colleagues and sent over to Kenya.”
The gifts were distributed to youngsters by members of the BSI during personal time while on exercise in Kenya.
All of the children belonged to an orphanage in Isiola.
John said: “When we received the pictures of the children in our strips it was lovely to see.
It’s weird to think they’ve travelled so far and went from South Tyneside to Kenya.
“All of the kids were grinning and looked really delighted with what we had sent over, so it was really heartwarming to see the children who were benefiting from our donations.
“If a child didn’t receive a strip then they were given a colouring book, bubbles and toys, so nobody was left out.”
The club, which has been running since 1987, is always keen for new members to get involved with football.
It trains kids from the ages of four, through to 18, at various locations across the borough including the 4D pitch at Temple Park Centre and teams play in the Russell Foster league.
On Monday, July 2, coaching sessions for youngsters aged from four to eight year olds will begin Gypsies Green from 6pm to 7pm which will be undertaken by qualified coaches who hold DBS and emergency first aid qualifications.
For anyone interested, or if older players are looking for a team, please contact Paul Bennett, club chairman on 07847 507 265.