AS the sun shone over Paradise on Saturday, representatives from Celtic supporters’ groups across the UK and Ireland gathered on the Celtic Way to back Celtic FC Foundation’s 67 Kitchens campaign, an initiative in partnership with Mary’s Meals.
Celtic FC Foundation recently announced that a key beneficiary of the upcoming Legends’ match will be the 67 Kitchens, which, in honour of the Lisbon Lions, will see the build of school kitchens in countries where extreme poverty is a major barrier to education for millions of children.
Following this announcement, the Celtic Supporters’ Association, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters’ Clubs,The Association of Irish Celtic Supporters’ Clubs, the Celtic Disabled Supporters’ Association, the Central, South West and Wales Celtic Supporters’ Association and the North American Federation of Celtic Supporters’ Clubs have joined forces to back the initiative and to encourage their member clubs to get involved.
In partnership with the Celtic family, the Foundation aims to cover the cost of building 67 school kitchens and supplying food to the children enrolled there, with the cost of feeding one child for a whole year being just £13.90.
Supporters’ clubs are invited to sponsor one of the 67 kitchens, and can do this by arranging fundraising events and activities throughout this and next season. The kitchen facility at each school will then display the naming banner of its founding supporters’ club, with Celtic FC and Celtic FC Foundation crests proudly displayed alongside the supporting CSC.
Joe O’Rourke, General Secretary of the Celtic Supporters’ Association, said: “We are delighted to support this wonderful new initiative from Celtic FC Foundation. Providing the facility for children to receive nourishment while being educated will give them the chance to reach their potential and play their own part in the development of their community.”
Kevin Graham, of the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters’ Clubs, said: “The Affiliation is proud to support the 67 Kitchens campaign. Celtic’s first breath and heartbeat was charitable and, whether it’s helping local communities or those in need worldwide, the spirit of Walfrid lives on through the work of the Foundation.”
The initiative has also received wonderful backing from our Irish supporters. Neville Carolan, Secretary of The Association of Irish Celtic Supporters’ Clubs added: “This is another fantastic initiative by Celtic FC Foundation to help provide food for those most in need. It is also fitting that in this, the 50th anniversary of Celtic’s European Cup triumph, the name of the Lisbon Lions will be associated with this project which will leave a positive and lasting legacy.”
Martin Gilmore, of the Ballymena Shamrock CSC, added: “Over 150 years ago, a million Irish people fled all over the world as our nation suffered an Gorta Mor. In 2017 it is very sad to see countries suffering similar atrocities and none of us can really understand the pain felt by these poor people.
“The 67 Kitchen initiative shows the Celtic support will always try and help those who are less fortunate. Our great football club was formed to help refugees mainly from our Island and it is fantastic to see that Brother Walfrid’s legacy lives on. God bless them.”
And, as thousands of supporters get ready to descend on Las Vegas for the annual North American Federation of Celtic Supporters’ Clubs Convention in June, our stateside supporters also backed the campaign.
Tam Donnelly, President of the NAFCSC, said: “This is a great initiative and something that every Celtic supporter should contribute to if possible. Our supporters have always been committed to helping those less fortunate and it’s great to see that spirit continue today.”
Peter Joyce, Chairman of the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association, added: “The CDSA are delighted to give their backing to this very worthwhile initiative by the Celtic FC Foundation. This really does take the club back to its original founding in helping to feed the poor, and that is commendable.”
Dave Bradshaw, Chairman of the Central, South West and Wales CSA, added: “We wholeheartedly support this project and are delighted to work with the Foundation in promoting the 67 Kitchens.”
Members of Oban No. 1 Celtic Supporters’ Club will pledge their support by organising a fundraising walk from Mary’s Meals in Dalmally to Iona, along the route of St Conan’s Pilgrim Way, during June.
Roddy MacIsaac of Oban No. 1 explained: “The supporters’ club are really pleased to get involved in this as part of the Henrik v Lubo match fundraising. Raising money with the Foundation to pay for a kitchen and food connects us back to our roots as Celtic fans and it’s just magic to be doing it in the name of the Lions in the 50th anniversary year.
“The partnership we have with the Foundation has really moved on in recent times and gives the supporters’ club a platform in the name of Celtic to fundraise for our own community, for the community around Celtic Park and for the work we want to do for overseas aid.”
Tony Hamilton, Celtic FC Foundation’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to continue our long-running partnership with Mary’s Meals, and to provide critical aid to the people of Malawi, South Sudan and Syria. The 67 Kitchens is an initiative which we are honoured to build on behalf of the Lions and it’s a real pleasure to be able to partner with supporters’ clubs and organisations in achieving this.”
The building of kitchens within schools will not only provide a safe, dedicated area for meals to be prepared, it will greatly enhance the infrastructure at each school. When not in use for school feeding, the buildings can be used as classrooms, with blackboards painted on internal walls.
The initiative offers the opportunity for the Celtic family worldwide to assemble behind a single objective and together honour the achievement of our greatest ever team. If you or your supporters’ club would like further information, please contact [email protected] or call +44 141 551 4262.