Sheffield United & Weston Park partnership – a look back
Blades’ backing for Weston Park continue as United play Palace
This Saturday (8 May) marks the annual Weston Park Cancer Charity Takeover Day – and things will look a lot different when the Blades take on Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane (3pm kick-off).
However, while we’re sad we won’t be able to experience the buzz of a busy matchday in person, the event gives us a great chance to reflect on a partnership which has blossomed since 1994, while also raising vital awareness of our work.
Bucket collections and huge fundraising initiatives would normally take place on a matchday and Blades fans have dug deep for us over the years – a heartfelt thank you from all at Weston Park Cancer Charity.
Did you know? Sheffield United were among our very first corporate supporters back in 1994 and have been by our side ever since.
Since then, fans, players, management, staff, sponsors and the whole Blades family has played its part in the partnership’s success.
Countless high-value items have been donated to club raffles including signed shirts, boots, photos and tickets, and the Blades Superdraw alone has raised more than £64,000.
Meanwhile, huge events such as club charity dinners have raised more than £65,000 over the years – including the annual Chatsworth Charity Ball and the 125 Gala Dinner in 2014. Despite the 125 Dinner being all about the club and its achievements, United still found time to raise more than £12,000 in one night for Weston Park Cancer Charity.
Other events such as Chris Morgan’s Testimonial in 2015 were a huge contributor. The game, which pitted the then League One Blades against Premier League Newcastle United in a pre-season friendly, was a tremendous success and Weston Park received £10,000 following the match.
These funds have been huge for us – and support has been more important than ever during a time at which our income is extremely hard-hit.
Those are just some of the ways in which the Blades have supported Weston Park over the years – however there are some things which cannot be quantified.
Player visits to Weston Park Cancer Charity and the hospital at Christmas time have brought cheer to patients and staff – wonderful occasions which put smiles on faces.
Players, staff and management have also been happy to be involved in our campaigns for decades – acting as ambassadors to help raise the profile of our charity. By growing our profile and raising awareness, you have helped us communicate our message to the public, which in turn has supported our vital fundraising – enabling us to care in every sense for the one in two people diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Our blossoming partnership with Sheffield United Community Foundation has also been crucial during the pandemic.
Sheffield United and its Community Foundation helped us found Blades Fan Fit in 2018. That initiative – coordinated in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University – was launched to increase awareness of cancer and improve the health and wellbeing of fans through a variety of timetabled activities.
The scheme was, in essence, the seed upon which Fans FC grew years later. Fans FC (Fans Fighting Cancer), which is also supported by the Premier League Charitable Fund, provides free mental and physical health and wellbeing support for people affected by cancer. This includes those living with cancer, those looking to improve their health as a means to prevent cancer, and people looking for ways to reduce its impact.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has delivered free online health and fitness sessions by providing a weekly timetable of accessible, low impact physical activity and social sessions for people across the city.
Darren Hayes, Business Development Manager at Weston Park Cancer Charity, said:
“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of Sheffield United Football Club and the brilliant Blades fans.
“Our partnership with Sheffield United is special – it dates right to our roots as a charity in 1994, with so many amazing events and fundraisers having taken place over the years to help us care in every sense for those affected by cancer.
“Partnerships such as this and the awareness they provide help us to continue supporting those who need us the most, while also enabling life-saving research and directly enhancing treatment.
“And, during such a challenging year, the backing of such wonderful organisations and networks like Sheffield United has been crucial. A cancer diagnosis changes everything – but with your support, so can we.”
For more information on Weston Park Cancer Charity or to pledge your support, visit https://www.westonpark.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/.
To speak to a member of our healthcare team, call 0114 553 3330 for free, confidential cancer support.