FA Cup fever is sweeping Sussex ahead of Brighton and Hove Albion’s semi-final appearance at Wembley on April 6 – and the trophy itself recently spent a day in the county for an event raising money for the Seagulls’ official charity.
The Picture House Cinema and Restaurant in Uckfield played host to the iconic trophy on Sunday (March 24) after owner Kevin Markwick won a visit from the FA Cup in a charity auction.
Mr Markwick, who is an Albion fan and season ticket holder at the American Express Community Stadium, was determined to use the visit to support Albion in the Community (AITC) and invited people to visit his restaurant and grab a selfie with the cup in return for a donation to AITC.
And football fans from across Sussex did just that - seizing the opportunity to get within touching distance of the trophy. In fact, supporters were queuing up outside the venue from 9.30am – a full half an hour before the restaurant opened.
Many also ordered Albion-themed food from the menu, with a share of proceeds also going to AITC, or took part in a competition to win a football signed by the current Albion team, which was won by Holly Lonsdale.
Among the gathered fans was 88-year-old Roy Lewis, who spoke of his fond memories of the Albion’s 1983 FA Cup run, and another fan who travelled all the way from Cornwall for the event.
They were joined by Brighton and Hove Albion mascot Gully and the day raised more than £1,100 for AITC – money which will now help fund its local football sessions for people with a disability.
Mr Markwick, who was given the extra special honour of holding the trophy, was delighted with how the day went. He said: “It was such a fantastic day and a real joy to see so many people having a great time while raising money for such a good cause.”
AITC’s Mark Barkaway added: “We are incredibly grateful to Kevin and everyone at the Picture House for their support. Not only was it a brilliant day, it also raised a significant amount of money which will make a real difference to many of the people we work with.”