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A work football team are raising funds for Chestnut Tree House Hospice

Read how Jamie Westley turned his work football team into a vital fund-raiser for Chestnut Tree House - the children's hospice in Sussex

It all started a few years ago, when I worked for G4S at Gatwick Airport and I started a little work football team up.

We just started off playing against local businesses, as you do, and I thought to myself; what can we do to make this better?

At the time, I was doing the Three Peaks Challenge for charity and I’d picked Chestnut Tree House as a worthy recipient for the funds, thanks to the great work they do with such little funding assistance.

And it was then that I thought of offering our team to represent the hospice and help raise more money for them.

When we started out, at all of our games the players would pay either £10 or £20 to play and the opposition would pay the same.

So we would raise about £250 a game and we still have days like that when we’ll raise £350 or £450 when we play another local team.

Quite a few of our players are people who have sadly had people there before and therefore now trying to help and show their appreciation to the team.

It got me thinking about how we could get better players involved using the power of football, and that’s when the idea of the celebrity and ex-professional games came in so we went about building up our contacts and raising more awareness of Chestnut Tree House in the process.

Since then, we’ve had a number of celebrity games and had lots of support and publicity. Our most recent was at Worthing FC earlier this year, when the likes of Paul Konchesky, Dappy and Scott Minto were all involved.

We also do evening dinner events with ex-players and in the past we’ve had them with Razor Ruddock and Paul Merson, and we’ve just had one with Bruno, the Brighton captain, who has also become an ambassador for the team.

The money we make is great and we’re so grateful for the help we get from within football, but the awareness is the key really because it costs the hospice just under £7000 a day to run, so anything we can do to help is great.

We have raised a total of over £53,000 so far, I can’t believe where we are in what seems like a short space of time and where we’re looking to go.

Alison Taylor – Fundraiser Chestnut Tree House

It’s amazing how Jamie has used football to raise funds and support the hospice over the last few years, he’s been incredible for us.

To provide some background to it all, Chestnut Tree House provides specialist care for children with life-shortening conditions from across the whole of Sussex and south-east Hampshire.

This includes short breaks and activities, emergency care, step down from hospital and end-of-life care, with support for the whole family such as parents, siblings and grandparents.

We have a hospice based in Arundel where children can come and we also have a community team who go and provide the same support at the family homes, so it’s great awareness for us to have these events and helps towards the funds that we need as well.

It costs £3.5m a year to run Chestnut Tree House, so it’s amazing what Jamie and the football team have done for us really.

They have raised just over £53,000 and a lot of that has come from Jamie doing it all off his own back, organising all of these events and planning more events ahead too…and we can’t thank him enough.

A lot of the celebrities might not have heard about what we do before they first get involved, but then they might come back to support us again so it’s not just a one-off and we often see the same faces coming back and getting involved again. It’s amazing really.

More recently, he’s helped the Brighton & Hove Albion captain Bruno become an ambassador for the hospice and he’s done so much for us already.

We recently had a successful ‘Evening with Bruno’ and he’s helped some of our children be mascots at the Brighton games, when they went in the changing rooms and met the players. So having someone local like him as a supporter and engaging with us is great.

It’s our 15th birthday year in 2018 and we’re always looking for more people to get involved in the football team or any events, with plenty of sponsorship opportunities available.

If you would like further information about the work of Chestnut Tree House please contact the charity:

Chestnut Tree House
T: 01903 871800
E: enquiries@chestnut-tree-house.org.uk