Former Sunderland AFC Chairman Sir Bob Murray CBE returned to the North East this week in his role as Foundation of Light Chair of Trustees to celebrate the charity’s 18th birthday and to open a learning suite in honour of author James Herriot.
Since its launch in 2001, Foundation of Light has grown to become one of the biggest and best football foundations in the country working with thousands of people every week.
Last year the award-winning charity opened the state-of-the-art Beacon of Light, a £20m community hub designed to improve lives and create opportunities through innovative programmes addressing local needs in four zones: education; health and wellbeing; sport and play; and world of work.
Speaking about the Foundation’s journey from fledgling charity to world-class community organisation Sir Bob Murray said “Over the course of the last 18 years the Foundation has come of age, maturing as an agile, dynamic and compassionate organisation constantly adapting to serve its community.
From starting with just three staff in a temporary office, to over 130 staff today in this fantastic home of ours (the Beacon of Light), our growth has been extraordinary, but we have always remained true to our vision to improve lives through the power of football
“However, we couldn’t have done this alone. The support and backing of our donors and partners has been vital and I want to publicly thank everyone who has played their part in our fantastic journey.”
The 18th birthday celebration saw the Foundation of Light host a special drinks reception for supporters, with attendees from across the north east community.
In a speech, SAFC legend Kevin Ball said: “The thing about the Foundation, Lesley and her staff, is they always want to go the extra mile. When you see any of them, they always greet you with a smile.
“When you look at the Foundation of Light, and the Beacon of Light, I was truly blown away by it. It helps families learn to cook healthy meals together. It helps adults develop and learn – I met a young man who couldn’t leave the house and the Foundation helped him do that and helped him get a job. Simply amazing.
“It’s only the 18th birthday but there will be many more great birthdays to come and I look forward to continuing to support Sir Bob and the Foundation.”
The celebration also featured a cake decorated by children and parents from St.Joseph’s Primary School taking part in the Foundation’s Family Learning programme.
Earlier in the day Sir Bob Murray opened the James Herriot Learning Suite, a classroom in the Beacon of Light dedicated to the bestselling of author and vet, which will be used for formal and informal education by children and adults. The room has been supported by a donation from the James Herriot Partnership and opened officially by James Herriot’s son Jim Wight and daughter Dr Rosie Page.
Sunderland-born Herriot (birth name Alf Wight) is well known for his support of the Black Cats with a suite at the Stadium of Light dedicated to him. As a result of his dedication and support of the club, he was made a Life President of the club in 1992 when Sir Bob was Chairman.
As part of the opening Jim Wight made a speech about the special relationship his father had with Sunderland AFC and his desire to continue supporting the club through its foundation.
Talking about the James Herriot Partnership support to the Beacon of Light, Sir Bob said, “James came from humble beginnings, born just around the corner from this building, and went on to become one of the world’s best known and most loved authors. I admired James so much, he was inspirational. He was determined to succeed and overcome the many challenges which came his way. Which makes him a wonderful role-model for the Beacon.”
85p from every £1 raised by the Foundation of Light goes towards frontline delivery in our award winning programmes across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham. To help us make a real difference to local lives, donate today via JustGiving.
7 November 2019