Hertfordshire based charity KitAid recently held a double celebration to mark over 1 million items having been donated in the 25 years since it was formed
Since 1998 KitAid has worked to collect unwanted football kit from clubs and distributed it around the developing world where it can be put to good use. Whether it is giving young people the opportunity to get involved in sport or helping partner charities engage with the communities they work with, the donated kit can have a huge impact on people’s lives.
Founded by Derrick Williams MBE from Hemel Hempstead, KitAid receives support from clubs across the football pyramid, from the Premier League to grassroots. Some of the biggest donors of kit include the England national teams, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Watford, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Cardiff City, as well as non- league clubs such as Chesham United, FC United of Manchester and Marine AFC.
KitAid has grown to support other sports such as netball, athletics and golf by providing clothing and equipment, and despite receiving no grants itself, KitAid also manages to fund football related projects in Malawi, Uganda and Belfast. Its work began following a visit to Tanzania by Derrick, where he 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.
This received such a good reaction, they decided to widen the collection to grassroots clubs in the Hemel Hempstead and Watford area and distribute it to where it was most needed around the world. Twenty-five years on, the charity now has over 100 volunteers and has sent over 28,500 boxes of kit donated by clubs and organisations across the UK.
Special Celebration Event at Vicarage Road
The late Graham Taylor OBE was Patron of KitAid from 2005 until his untimely passing in 2017, and fittingly the charity’s 25th Anniversary and one millionth milestone was celebrated at a special fundraising dinner at the Watford FA stadium, in sight of the stand that bears the former England manager’s name. Speaking on the night, KitAid founder 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”.
To mark the occasion a special England shirt marking the one millionth piece of kit donated to KitAid was presented by current boss Gareth Southgate at St George’s Park, ahead of the Three Lions EURO 2024 qualifying match against Ukraine. Debbie Hewitt, MBE, Chair of The Football Association also sent a message of congratulations:
“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”.
At the event Hertfordshire FA CEO Karl Lingham said:
“Congratulations on 25 years of incredible work changing lives through the power of sport and supporting some of the most underprivileged people across the world. We’re proud to have supported KitAid as our official charity partner for more than a decade and delighted see it continue to go from strength to strength as more and more clubs support this amazing cause. To have gone from 500,000 items five years ago to more than a million today testament to the hard work of all the volunteers involved”.
For more information on KitAid and how you can support their work, visit their website by following the link below.
England Manager Gareth Southgate with a special KitAid shirt made to mark the occasion, and Hertfordshire FA CEO Karl Lingham with KitAid founder Derrick Williams at the event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the charity