Star-studded SAFC Foundation awards night honours inspirational winners

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Jason Donovan, George Clarke and a host of SAFC stars attended

SAFC star Trai Hume is among those pictured with award winner Jessica Hunter.SAFC star Trai Hume is among those pictured with award winner Jessica Hunter.
SAFC star Trai Hume is among those pictured with award winner Jessica Hunter. | 3rd party

Sunderland AFC players past and present joined big names from across the North East and Jason Donovan to show their support for Foundation of Light’s star-studded Gala Awards Dinner.

The event, a highlight of the football club’s official charity’s calendar, celebrated the inspirational stories of 16 Foundation participants who overcame adversity to live happier and healthier lives.

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Held at the Foundation’s home, the Beacon of Light, the evening raised over £80,000 to support the charity’s work across the region.

SAFC defender Luke O'Nien, right, with award winner Rhea Hayes.SAFC defender Luke O'Nien, right, with award winner Rhea Hayes.
SAFC defender Luke O'Nien, right, with award winner Rhea Hayes. | 3rd party

Hosted by Sky Sports presenters David Jones and Tom White, over 300 guests including broadcaster George Clarke were treated to performances from hit theatre show The Sunderland Story and pop idol Mr Donovan.

SAFC stars Luke O’Nien, Trai Hume and Niall Huggins joined former strikers Kevin Phillips and Marco Gabbiadini to help dish out awards to the winners.

For more than two decades, the Foundation of Light, the official charity of Sunderland AFC, has used the power of football to support over half a million people from some of the most deprived areas in the North East.

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It tackles some of the region's biggest challenges including social isolation, unemployment, food poverty and poor physical and mental health.

SAFC chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, right and Kristjaan Speakman, left, with award winner Emily Brown.SAFC chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, right and Kristjaan Speakman, left, with award winner Emily Brown.
SAFC chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, right and Kristjaan Speakman, left, with award winner Emily Brown. | 3rd party

Through various initiatives, programmes and links with Sunderland AFC, the Foundation gives families the opportunity to access sports and fitness sessions, mental health resources and experience the facilities at the Beacon of Light community hub.

Foundation of Light chairman, Sir Bob Murray said: “It gives me great pride to see everyone come together to celebrate the amazing achievements of both the Foundation of Light and the winners of this year’s awards.

Jason Donovan performed at the event.Jason Donovan performed at the event.
Jason Donovan performed at the event. | 3rd party

“Our communities have been struggling with a cost-of-living crisis and their need for support has never been greater. The Foundation has worked hard to introduce new initiatives to help those who are most vulnerable.

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“The gala dinner gives us the opportunity to celebrate the impact the Foundation has made, while also raising funds to ensure that our hard work can continue.

“We have an incredible showcase of inspiring stories from children, families and adults, each of whom have worked incredibly hard and it is an honour to be able to give them the recognition they deserve.”

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