A Lichfield football club has kicked off its new community partnership with St Giles Hospice by adopting the charity’s colours for its new kit and raising more than £1,000 at the annual St Giles Rudolph Run.

Players and parents from Mercia Juniors Football Club signed up to this month’s festive event in just the first of a series of planned fundraising activities to thank St Giles for their care of team members’ families in the past.

Mercia Juniors are also championing the hospice by appearing in its eye-catching orange branding whenever they lace up their boots from now on, with the St Giles logo emblazoned on their shirts instead of a sponsor.

Harry Crooks (left) and Lucas Thompson with St Giles Hospice Regional Fundraiser Bethany Richardson.

Players have given an enthusiastic thumbs-up to their smart new kit and club officials hope it will achieve their goal of spreading the word about the work St Giles does supporting people living with a terminal illness and their families.

Bethan Thompson, committee member at Mercia Juniors, said that St Giles Hospice was a cause very close to the hearts of everyone at the club, and that members had jumped at the chance to give something back to the charity.

She said: “St Giles has played a vital part in supporting Mercia football club families in the last 12 months and when the opportunity presented itself for us to pursue a partnership with the charity, the committee felt it was absolutely the right way to remember two very special people.

“We hope that this not only provides a fitting commemoration but also highlights the amazing work this local charity does for our community. As a local team, everyone has a loved one who has been cared for at St Giles or knows of someone who has been supported by the hospice.”

Mercia Juniors Chairman Paul Tyndall said: “We’re now in our fourth season as a new club and we are absolutely delighted to be partnering with St Giles. The new orange kits are absolutely fantastic. The boys love them – they’re bright, fun and stand out across the pitch in every game, making a real statement for both the club and the charity.

“It’s great to get back playing again after the lockdown and now we really want to see where we can take the partnership.”

Bethany Richardson, Regional Fundraiser at St Giles Hospice, said that St Giles was delighted to receive the backing of Mercia Juniors and that everyone at the hospice would be cheering on the club’s teams from the sidelines.

She added: “Raising more than £1,000 in a single Rudolph Run is a fantastic effort and we’re so grateful to everyone from the club who took part – they’re our football heroes!

“The new kit looks so smart and we’re sure that all the players will make wonderful ambassadors for St Giles Hospice. We’d like to thank everyone at Mercia Juniors Football Club for their wonderful support and for helping to highlight the care we offer local families when they need it most.”

Mercia Juniors runs teams for under 10s up to under 15s and is based at Lichfield’s Friary School. The club plays in the Midland Juniors Premier, Burton, Tamworth and Derby City Leagues.