We're proud of what football family has achieved: Sussex fundraiser about to pass £50k mark

The fabulous fundraising drive for the NHS set up by two Sussex footballers is set to reach the £50,000 mark.

Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 7:30 am
Kevin Keehan and Scott Kirkwood after their respective runs

Kevin Keehan and Scot Kirkwood set out to net £3,000 for the charitable arm of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.

Six weeks on, they have raised nearly £47,000 more than that thanks to 3,200-plus donors and hundreds of footballers, club officials and other supporters running a 5k and raising cash in doing so.

The project is likely to come to an end once that magical £50k figure has been reached.

Keehan told us he still could not quite believe how well the initiative had taken off and was delighted they had been able to raise so much.

“We never saw this coming,” said Keehan. “We knew from the number of contacts we had in football we could probably get to £3,000.

“Oriel High School in Crawley has been by far the biggest single organisation to contribute – their running total is 626 participants and £6,861 raised.

“Their PE department got involved through a teacher who’d played for a Sussex club and once some did it, everyone else at the school wanted to join in.

“That was outstanding – they were so enthusiastic.

“But we’re grateful to every club and organisation that got involved, whether they had one runner or hundreds.”

The profile of the fundraising effort was boosted early on when a number of England Lionesses took up the challenge, followed by a number of former Brighton and Hove Albion players.

Seagulls bosses also backed the project directly by going on social media and encouraging members of their under-23 squad to take part.

Keehan and Kirkwood, who both did their own 5ks at the start of the venture, feel the whole thing has shown how the football community can be a force for good.

The two 34-year-olds decided the launch the charity effort after talking on the phone about how they were coping with lockdown.

Kirkwood told Keehan his sister, who works for the NHS, had remarked on the huge pressure the service was under following the coronavirus outbreak.

Keehan said: “We’re really proud of what we have achieved as a football community.”

Keehan has played for Peacehaven, East Preston, Horsham and Shoreham and is now player-manager at AFC Varndeanians, while fellow midfielder Kirkwood has served Horsham, Whitehawk and Bognor and is now at Burgess Hill.

Officials who administer the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS charitable funds have been following the in touch with Keehan and Kirkwood to express their gratitude.

* It’s not too late to help the fund reach £50k. For the latest news, see @Run5k4NHS on Twitter – or click here to donate.