HRH Countess of Wessex marks the start of the Foundation of Light’s 20th birthday celebrations
Sophie, Countess of Wessex GCVO, has spoken about her pride for the “incredibly special” Foundation of Light during a video call to mark the start of the charity’s 20th birthday celebrations.
Hosted by Sunderland AFC board member and Sky Sports presenter Dave Jone, The Countess was joined by the Foundation’s Chair of Trustees, Sir Bob Murray CBE, Chief Executive Lesley Spuhler OBE DL and Sunderland AFC Ladies Captain Keira Ramshaw.
The video call marks the start of a year long celebrations for Sunderland AFC’s official charity, which supports tens of thousands of people across the North East to live happier and healthier lives.
The Foundation has grown from a small number of staff in 2001 to become one of the biggest football charities in the country, now employing over 100 staff, with over 170 volunteers and its very own sports and education facility, the Beacon of Light.
Talking about her long-running support for the charity, which began back in 2004, HRH The Countess of Wessex said “I couldn’t be more proud to be Patron. I’ve been really lucky to see the whole thing changing and developing - and fulfilling so many people’s dreams.
“On behalf of all the people who come through the doors of the Foundation of Light, thank you so much for everything that you’re doing. I know that it’s not easy at the moment, but I’m sure there will be some positive takeaways that you can utilise in the future.
“The Foundation is always flexible to the needs of the community and that is what makes it incredibly special, and already you are picking up on issues that are current and right now. I know the Foundation will always be there for the community and for those needs.”
Former Sunderland AFC chairman and Foundation of Light founder Sir Bob Murray CBE reflected on opening the Beacon.
“It (the Beacon) was ten years in the making and now it offers 7,000 people a week a beacon of hope.
“I’m more excited about the future – we haven’t really got going since we got in there because of what the world is going through but we’re looking to the future under Lesley’s leadership."
Sunderland AFC Ladies captain Keira Ramshaw was spotted by the Foundation at the age of 7 added: “They’ve immensely helped me in my career, whether it’s been on the pitch or off the pitch. They’ve helped with my teamwork skills and confidence.
“The Foundation has helped to provide me with a building block of how to conduct myself in and out of sport."
Later this evening (Thursday, February 4), landmarks across Sunderland including Penshaw Monument, Northern Spire, Keel Square, Fulwell Mill and Seaburn Lighthouse will join the charity’s home, the Beacon of Light, in shining red and white to mark the special day.