MARINE FC has been collecting football kits for poor children and adults around the world for the past nine years - and they have now collected their 20,000th item!
Since 2011, the club’s Community Officer, Barry Lenton, has been gathering unwanted kits for Sefton KitAid, which supports some of the poorest families in 30 different countries.
Last week, Barry was presented with the 20,000th item of kit by local resident Kevin Kilbane and his son Harry.
Barry said: “When I started collecting, my aim was to hand over 1,000 items of kit to KitAid and then move on to the next project but I continued to sort and count every item - every shirt, shorts, pairs of socks and boots and even referees’ kits, training bibs and footballs.
“It’s been hard work but very rewarding and I’ve made a lot of new friends along the way.”
Founder of KitAid, Derrik Williams MBE added: “We are incredibly grateful to Barry for his total dedication in collecting such an enormous amount of kit for us. This is by far the largest donation from a single person and it is a staggering amount.
“Barry has provided enough kit for 1,300 teams to play football across Africa and the developing world. He has made a difference to thousands of people who would otherwise not be able to play in proper kit and boots. The joy and smiles he will have brought to many players is truly heartwarming.
“We would also like to thank Marine for supporting Barry from the very start of the campaign, along with the many thousands of people across Merseyside who have donated kit to him.
“Barry Lenton is a legend in non-league football and now a legend in many parts of Africa. Thank you Barry."
Marine Chairman Paul Leary said: “This is an incredible achievement for Marine Football Club and especially for Barry. To collect 20,000 items in just nine years has been an amazing journey for him and I am delighted that he has achieved such a milestone.
“As author of the 125 anniversary book, the history of Marine, published towards the end of 2019 and now achieving this record breaking number of kits for the charity KitAid todays presentation culminates in a fantastic year for him and he is well deserved of the accolades that will undoubtedly follow.”