England manager Gareth Southgate presented a Hemel Hempstead-based charity with its landmark one-millionth donation this weekend.
Ahead of England’s recent match against Ukraine, Southgate presented an England shirt to mark the one-millionth piece of kit donated to the Hemel Hempstead-based KitAid Charity for sports projects in Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.
Founded 25 years ago by Derrick Williams MBE from Hemel Hempstead, KitAid receives support from clubs across the whole football pyramid, from the Premier League to grassroots park teams. Some of the big donors include The English FA, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Watford, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Cardiff City, as well as non-league clubs such as Hemel Hempstead Town.
KitAid also supports other sports such as netball, athletics and golf by providing clothing and equipment. And despite receiving no grants itself, KitAid manages to fund football related projects in Malawi, Uganda and Belfast.
Founded in 1998, KitAid is an entirely volunteer-run charity. While visiting Tanzania, Derrick Williams spotted a young boy wearing a ragged Liverpool FC shirt. On his return, he showed a photo to local friends and they decided to fill a box with kit to send to the boy’s village of Ntalikwa in Tanzania. It received such a good reaction, they decided to widen the collection to grassroots clubs in the Hemel Hempstead and Watford area. Twenty-five years on, the charity has over 100 volunteers and has sent over 28,500 boxes of kit donated by clubs and organisations across the UK. The late Graham Taylor OBE was Patron of KitAid from 2005 until his untimely passing in 2017.
The charity’s 25th Anniversary and one millionth milestone was celebrated at a special fundraising dinner at Watford FC Stadium in Vicarage Road on Friday 8 September. Derrick Williams said: “I am delighted that KitAid has reached the major milestone of donating one million items of kit, in our 25th Anniversary year. It has been a tremendous effort by all of our volunteers and we could not have achieved this without the help of hundreds of clubs supporting our work. Every item of kit makes a difference, enables someone to participate in sport and brings a smile to their day.”
Debbie Hewitt, MBE, Chair of the Football Association celebrated KitAid’s success: “On behalf of us all at the Football Association, we congratulate KitAid in reaching your 25th Anniversary as well as the remarkable achievement of donating 1,000,000 pieces of kit to countries around the world, where it is greatly needed.
“Over the years, KitAid has helped the FA to make sure that our redundant England kit is sorted, packaged and distributed and your hard work and dedication is an inspiration to us. We are proud to be associated with you and send our very best wishes and gratitude to your volunteers and supporters for the truly great work that you do.”
Due to its success in getting more clubs to donate kit, KitAid is desperately running out of storage. If anyone has any empty storage or warehouse units in the Hemel area, please get in touch via the KitAid website or social media.