Volunteer at kidney charity gets fundraising help from Swansea City FC

A volunteer fundraiser at Swansea based kidney charity, the Paul Popham Fund, has reached out to players at his favourite football team, Swansea City FC, to help him raise money during the down-turn in fundraising opportunities which have beset the charitable sector as a result of COVID-19.

Paul Popham Fund volunteer fundraiser, Paul Smith, from Gowerton, is a lifelong Swans fan and a keen runner with the Paul Popham Running Club (PPRC). Many of the club’s runners regularly take part in 10k’s, half marathons, marathons and triathlons – raising much-needed money for the charity in the process.

When the coronavirus lockdown first struck, Paul realised that many of the events which the club relies on to raise sponsorship would be cancelled or postponed, so decided to try alternative fundraising ideas.

So far, he has raised almost £400 by selling, auctioning and raffling off a variety of Swans kit – collected and donated by Connor Roberts – originally belonging to players including Jake Bidwell, Freddie Woodman, Nathan Dyer, André Ayew, Jay Fulton, Bersant Celina, Rhian Brewster and Matt Grimes – some of which were signed by the players.

Paul still has one shirt left to sell and hopes to raise yet more funds by selling it to the highest bidder on his Facebook marketplace page. He hopes that the sale of this piece of Swans memorabilia will take his overall total to well over his initial £500 aim. The shirt is from the playoff game against Brentford and features the NHS rainbow on the front, the playoff badges on the arm and, best of all, Connor Roberts has signed it.

Paul Smith, volunteer fundraiser at the Paul Popham Fund, said:

“I first made contact when I put a shout out on Twitter to various past and present Swans players, looking for a pair of match-worn shorts for me to wear for the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2019. Connor Roberts replied, and we’ve stayed in touch since.

“With so many races cancelled this year due to the pandemic, I realised that the Paul Popham fund would have been very badly hit financially. The club was looking for alternative ways to raise funds and I wanted to help. I put a cheeky request in to Connor to see if he would help us out with some Swans kit and he got together a range of match-worn kit of his own, and a range of other players. I’ve sold it via Facebook and my own network of friends through raffles and direct sales.”

The country’s charity sector is reliant on volunteers, like Paul, to raise funds and help people when they are at their most vulnerable. The coronavirus pandemic has made this more difficult and more important than ever. A recent survey of 550 charities by the Institute of Fundraising states that 48% of charities risk losing a third of their income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, due to the loss of direct debit donations and fundraising event cancellations.

Swans player, Connor Roberts, said:

“The COVID outbreak has affected everyone’s lives, and after hearing of the challenges faced by the Paul Popham Fund with regard to fundraising through this pandemic, I really wanted to help out.

“The fund does so much good work and raises vital money, and I hope the money raised already from the signed Swans shirts is helping supply vital support to people with kidney disease and their families. Hopefully, my signed shirt from the play-off match against Brentford will take Paul over his original target.

“I’m a local boy and have been part of the Swans for most of my life, and one thing that really shines through at the club is just how important the community is to the club, and vice versa. So, I was really keen to do whatever was possible to help.”

Jo Popham, CEO of the Paul Popham Fund, said:

“We’re very grateful to Paul for his ingenuity and hard work raising funds for our charity, as well as to the players at Swansea City FC, particularly Connor, who so kindly donated their kit for us to sell. 2020 has been a challenging year for all charities, but the determination of volunteer fundraisers like Paul has meant that we’ve been able to continue to supply vital support to people with kidney disease and their families.”

For more information on the Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, visit www.paulpophamfund.co.uk

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