CELTIC FC Foundation’s Annual Sporting Dinner took place at Celtic Park last night (Thursday) and the sell-out event provided to be another great success with an incredible amount in the region of £65,000 raised.
The main beneficiary of the proceeds has been chosen as Celtic FC Foundation’s range of projects under the ‘Ability Counts’ banner. Our long-running Ability Counts project started out in 2011 as a way to engage children living with Down’s Syndrome.
Now it also comprises project delivery in Autism and/or complex physical disabilities. It is used to engage with children and young people who may otherwise be excluded.
We deliver weekly football and dance sessions for children and young people with Down’s Syndrome and constantly strive to further improve and enhance the provision through the introduction of new activities such as soft play and dry-ice skating.
We also provide weekly sessions for children and young people with Autism. The aim is to develop communication, co-ordination, self-confidence and social skills and activities include football, multi-sports, fun games, soft play and swimming.
At the Kerrydale Suite entrance last night, guests were warmly welcomed by a very special young man – Alex O’Donnell – who has attended Ability Counts since its inception and is now moving on to college. As part of Alex’s ongoing development he will undertake his work experience here at the Club.
As well as Celtic Manager Ronny Deila, members of his backroom team and a number of first-team players, guests were also joined by Celtic FC Foundation Ambassadors, Jay Beatty and Martin Perry.
The MC for the evening was Paul Cooney and, following a welcome by Celtic Chairman Ian Bankier, he hosted a Q&A with three members of the first-team squad – Kieran Tierney, Gary MacKay-Steven and Callum McGregor.
This was followed later in the evening by a few words from Ronny Deila and a fantastic video piece with messages of support from the full squad – including a number of hilarious out-takes.
Tony Hamilton, Celtic FC Foundation’s CEO provided a note of thanks and he was followed by two very special women – Joanne McAlpine and Sarah O’Reilly – whose children attend our Ability Counts project.
Joanne’s son, Fraser, has Down’s Syndrome and she shared his inspiring story and the very touching impact the Ability Counts sessions have had on him and the rest of the family. Not historically a footballing family, Fraser’s younger brother Jamie recently announced he’d decided to become a football fan and had chosen his team. ‘I’m supporting Celtic’ he said, ‘because they support my brother.’
Two of Sarah’s three children – Reuben and Abaigeal – were diagnosed with Autism within a year of each other. For Reuben, the project is the only social outlet where he can enjoy a healthy physical release, with little or no involvement from his parents.
The sessions provide Abaigeal with a happy place, where she can take off the mask and be herself. Ability Counts has also been amazing for Sarah’s eldest daughter, Molly, who is not Autistic. She gets to have one parent all to herself for two whole hours which is just beautiful.
The ever popular Andy Cameron hosted the auction and prize draw – where he was assisted by Celtic legends Tom Boyd, Danny McGrain and George McCluskey – entertaining guests as only he can do.
Next up was Scotland Manager, Gordon Strachan whose wonderful presentation almost lifted the roof off the Kerrydale Suite. He regaled guests with memories from throughout his illustrious career and shared a number of hilarious snapshots.
The evening also included a beautiful four-course meal, complimentary drink for each guest courtesy of Club Sponsor, Magners, and a silent auction.
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “The Annual Sporting Dinner is always a fantastic evening and it owes its success to those who attend on a regular basis or donate their time or prizes for the auction, silent auction and prize draw.
“The Club is rightly proud of its charitable beginnings and Celtic FC Foundation continues to deliver outstanding work, such as the Ability Counts project to honour that heritage.”
Tony Hamilton, Celtic FC Foundation’s CEO, added, “We are very lucky to have such magnificent backing for our charitable arm – Celtic FC Foundation. I am extremely grateful to everyone who played a part in our annual flagship event and I would like to thank all of those people on behalf of our Ability Counts families, who we will continue to support through this generosity.”
The Annual Sporting Dinner is a flagship event in Celtic FC Foundation’s fundraising calendar and its success, once again, is due to the phenomenal support received from table holders, guests, prize donors and all of those who gave up their time to support Ability Counts.
Thank you to each and every one of you.
To register your interest in our 2017 Annual Sporting Dinner, please email[email protected] or call 0141 551 4373.