It starts today! Hopefully with the national radio coverage and the good PR we have been given by Dave Watters from the league we should be receiving a load of kit from clubs all across the north of England. Once we know who has collected for us and how much, we will be in touch if we need any collecting from a club near to you.

I had an excellent meeting earlier this week with Darren Bernstein from The FA and Nick Perchard from our charity partner, The Herts FA. The meeting was to design a plan for KitAid and The RAF charity, Taking football to Africa, to receive surplus Umbro branded training kit from the 50 County FA’s across the country. Basically Nike will take over the contract from Umbro and all of the old kit needs to be disposed of in an environmentally sound way.

We will use our couriers as much as we can but there may be the need to call on you guys if there is a county FA office close by and they do not have a lot of kit to collect. I should find out in May which offices we will be asked to collect from so I will know more then.

As you know, we have sponsored the fantastic Ballysillan football camp again this year and for the last 4 years I have travelled over to Belfast for the final Friday and made a weekend trip of it.

If we do the same again this year it will be on 18/19/20 July. Even though I have been so often I always come away full of admiration for the fantastic work Peter Thompson and his team do and always inspired, touched and in awe of something I see or hear at the footy camp. It is also an opportunity to see what KitAid is about closer to home. Rather than just hearing it from me I asked Lesley Giddins to write a few lines, as she went on the trip last year. Here are her comments

"I was aware that KitAid had sponsored the Ballysillian tournament for a few years and had wanted to go in 2011 but just couldn't make it. In 2012 I decided to go along and my husband came along for the ride. We'd never been to Belfast in spite of living in the North West for most of our lives. We had a day in the city centre sightseeing, dinner with Derrick and a full day at the tournament. To any KitAid coordinators considering going along – I couldn't recommend it too highly. The tournament is great fun, the coaches and boys welcoming, and some pretty good football skills on display. We had a guided tour of the area and the Youth Centre, and some pretty eye opening stories of life for some young people in Belfast. I was very convinced that this is a good cause for KitAid to support.

We managed to squeeze in a tour of the political murals (of both sides of course), a chat to a few locals, and finished with dinner with the leaders of the youth group and tournament. They were truly inspiring and a lot of fun. I certainly plan to go back."

If you would like to be a part of Ballysillan 2013 could you let me know asap as flights will start to increase in price beyond April.

I am deighted (and relieved!) to have secured the £8k sponsorship we needed to go ahead with the black tie 15th Anniversary dinner on Thursday 17 October. Thanks to Affinity Water, Mouchel, Homeserve and DST Global Solutions who all agreed to be joint sponsors. We can now start on the hard work of pulling the event together but I am sure it will be a fantastic event and surpass our 10th Anniversary celebration held in 2008.

The event is designed to recognise all of your hard work and it is a celebration of what you have achieved, so I really hope you can make it. We will be able to confirm the venue soon and we will ask for a special room rate for guests, so please do make a note of the date as it would be a real shame if you cannot make it. A chance to put a face to a name in a really relaxed enjoyable atmosphere, KitAid party time!!