Two members of the West Riding Football Association are taking on the 2023 TCS London Marathon to help kick off a new £50,000 partnership with British Heart Foundation (BHF).
As part of the two-year agreement, West Riding FA will team up with the heart charity to promote cardiac health across West Yorkshire and surrounding areas, as well as raising funds to help pay for lifesaving research into heart and circulatory conditions.
West Riding FA’s Football Development Officers Reece Sockett and Tom Dent will launch the partnership with BHF when they take to the roads of London this weekend. Money they raise by taking part in the marathon will go towards the target £50,000 the County FA hope to raise in total.
Tom is proud to be running the 26-mile race for BHF as it was a charity already close to his heart. “My Grandad required heart surgery a few years ago and my father-in-law also recently had surgery,” he said.
“Without the support of BHF, we quite possibly would not have been able to make so many memories with both, so I'll be running with those two in mind when it starts to get tough.
“I ran the London Marathon in October 2021 and loved the experience on the day – bring on 23 April!”
Reece added that even though he had never been much of a runner, the London Marathon was something he had always wanted to do. “When I found out that West Riding FA was partnering with BHF it seemed a perfect fit as my family were supported by the charity after my grandad had two successful heart operations,” he said.
“This opportunity is a great test for my personally, but it is also a great chance to raise money for a fantastic charity.”
Other ways West Riding FA will be raising funds over the next two years include holding a Go Red day, football tournaments, encouraging donations, and inviting any club, league, or volunteer to hold their own BHF fundraising events across the region.
On the health side, the County FA will work with grassroots clubs to spread healthy heart messages and encourage the installation of defibrillators.
Footballers and supporters across the region will also be encouraged to learn CPR using BHF’s innovative tool RevivR, which teaches the lifesaving skill in just 15 minutes via a mobile phone app.
RevivR teaches you how to recognise a cardiac arrest, gives feedback on chest compressions and outlines the correct steps of defibrillator use, giving anyone the confidence to step in and save a life in the event of the ultimate medical emergency.
The money raised by West Riding FA will help the BHF fund vital research into heart and circulatory conditions like heart attacks, stroke and vascular dementia, and the risk factors that can cause them, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Jo de Tute, Head of Football Development at West Riding said: “We are really proud to partner with the British Heart Foundation and to know that the funds we raise will help the charity fund lifesaving research.
“With heart and circulatory diseases killing one in four people across West Yorkshire it’s inspiring to know that our fundraising could make a real impact for such an important cause.”
BHF’s Area Fundraising Manager Jodie Shepherd said: “We’re immensely grateful to West Riding FA for working with us to raise both funds and awareness and help BHF in its vital research.
“Thank you to Tom and Reece for leading the way by taking on the London Marathon but thank you also to all the County FA staff, Clubs, Leagues, volunteers and many others across the grassroots game for their hard work to make sure we reach as many people as possible with these vital messages.”