We have been offered a couple of pre-booked slots for 2 people to abseil down the very impressive Spinakker Tower in Portsmouth. Each slot has been pre-booked for Sunday 25 May at 13.00 and they cost £85 each. We have been offered them by a supporter of KitAid in the hope that we will find a couple of willing volunteers who may be able to raise some funds for us as well as having a great time themselves.

If you or you know of anyone that is up for the challenge, please ask them to email ian.hankin@affinitywater.co.uk and he will pass all of the details on. We appreciate it is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you are afraid on heights, but please do try and persuade someone to rise (or descend!) to the challenge for us.

I know that some of you are already fans but last week we saw an example of how powerful it can really be. We had a fantastic photo of kids in Kenya wearing new Watford shirts which we tweeted and then WFC re-tweeted to their 27k followers.

Immediately the photo was being favourite, re-tweeted and we were getting new followers on our site. Within 90 minutes it had been re-tweeted 115 times, which for us is an incredible reaction and a great opportunity for all of those people to find out more about what we do.

To me it also shows the power of a good photo and the more we can get, the bigger the opportunities, especially with Premier League clubs. Watford will also be using the photo and an article in their next home programme, so a few more thousand will get to read about us.

If you are not a fan already, do take a look at our site www.twitter.com/kitaid as we use it almost daily for the latest news.

Our friends from Stegota are desperately hoping to find a UK non league team who are more adventurous than most teams, to fund their own trip over to Kampala.

They will be treated like royalty, apart from during the matches which will be highly competitive, and have a fantastic experience to boot.

We have enlisted the help of Dave Watters, from the Evo-stik Northern Premier League, to help promote their appeal across all of the clubs in the league.

I know some of you already have links with certain clubs (Barrow, Bishops Stortford, Marine, FC United etc) so if you could mention it to them you never know, someone might be up for the challenge.

We attended a volunteer fair last week at the UoH and once again it proved really useful in terms of signing up some more helpers and spreading the word. Thanks to Carly Benton for the invite and to the graduate trainees from Affinity Water who very kindly “manned” the stand for us. I am really keen to work with Universities, so if you do have any links that would be interested please pass them our way.

Finally, thank you to all of you out in the regions for your support and activities. There has been a lot happening recently where you have made some great contacts and collected a lot of kit for us. You really are the backbone of KitAid and we couldn’t carry on without your fantastic support.

If you have ever wondered how a boxing up session works, or how we transport so much kit across the world, then take a look at our fantastic new film clip.

We would like to thank Middlesex University for their help in making the film and we are sure you will agree, it is a great job. It was filmed at a recent boxing up session when we had a number of different charities collecting kit, and they have all explained what it means to them and the kit recipients.

Our boxing up sessions are amazing, as in less than 3 hours we often sort and pack between 3 – 4,000 individual items of kit. They run like clockwork and even people who are attending for the first time are off and running really quickly. They are also good fun and a great way of meeting some very interesting people. If you would like to come along then drop us an email at kitaid@affinitywater.co.uk and we will let you know the date, etc.

One of our most unusual sources of footballs is from our friend Terry Oliver who is a very keen kayaker. Terry regularly finds balls floating on the river Trent that have probably caused the owner much distress when they see their prized football floating away from them.

Little do they know that Terry carefully scoops them up, takes them home, washes them in detergent and then passes them on to us once he has a bumper bundle. We then find a new home for them thousands of miles away and they have a new life on a dusty parched field in Africa.

Well done Terry – this is one of our favourite stories and if only the kids who lose their balls knew they were giving happiness to another child on a different continent we are sure they would be pleased.

Happy Christmas from all at KitAid, below is a list of some of our 2013 highlights! 

  • 25,400 items of kit sent all across the World in 2013 (at no expense to KitAid)
  • 725 footballs, sets of goalposts, goal nets and 1,000+ Match Attax cards also delivered
  • We have now sent out 220,000 items of kit since KitAd was set up in 1998
  • We celebrated our 15th Anniversary in style with 200 supporters and Graham Taylor OBE
  • We were featured on Sky Sports News in August and also interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live
  • We featured in many different newspapers across the UK as well as some African media
  • We sponsored the brilliant Ballysillan YFC football camp again as well as projects in Lesotho, Uganda and the Gambia
  • We were the chosen charity partner for the Hertfordshire FA, Evo-stik Northern Premier League and Spartan South Midlands League
  • We have strengthened our relationship with the University of Herts and Middlesex University
  • We have continued to receive fantastic support from PUMA and other manufacturers such as Great Branding

We would like to thank our Patron Graham Taylor OBE and all of the clubs from the entire football pyramid who have donated so much kit in 2013.

Happy Christmas from the KitAid team

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!!

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 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.