Date of release: 13 May 2020
The fund set up by former Wolves players and staff and backed by the club’s supporters has hit its £50,000 target to help The Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust at New Cross Hospital increase its capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Former Wolves captain Karl Henry, who was born at New Cross and was treated there as a child, launched the fund a month ago and with help from ex team-mates such as Matt Murray and Danny Batth, and support from the Wolves Foundation, former Wolves press officer Paul Berry, and Wolves Former Players Association, it quickly gathered pace in support of the Trust. Donations came in quickly from so many former players, managers and staff, including Mick McCarthy, Glenn Hoddle, Jez Moxey, Robbie Keane and Wayne Hennessey.
Wolves fans also added their backing with donations, with several raffles and auctions then taking place to help boost the fund, including former England defender Joleon Lescott giving away the shirt he wore in the 2003 play-off win against Sheffield United at the Millennium Stadium.
“When I first had this idea to try to encourage the former players and staff to get involved and try to help New Cross Hospital, I thought maybe £50,000 was a bit too ambitious a target,” said Henry, who made 272 appearances for his hometown club and was a key part of the 2008-09 Championship-winning season.
“Knowing what I do about Wolves as a club and the warmth and generosity of the fanbase, I should never have doubted it.
“Every former player or manager I spoke to had no hesitation in wanting to support the cause, even those who perhaps didn’t have the best time at the club or left in unhappy circumstances, and that goes to show what Wolves still means to them and how much they wanted to help the people of Wolverhampton.
“The support from the Foundation and the club as a whole has been fantastic and backed up what the owners and first team had already contributed to New Cross, as were the incredible amount of prizes that were donated – there are just too many people to thank but it was all massively appreciated.
“Each and every person who has supported this appeal should feel very proud that we have now reached our target, and, most importantly, that money has gone directly to help the NHS staff at New Cross - the real heroes - who are doing such an incredible job in looking after us and going above and beyond during this crisis.”
Wolves Foundation provided plenty of help and support as well as housing the auctions on their eBay site. “We’re delighted that the Wolves Foundation has played a part in this real Wolves team effort,” said Will Clowes, Head of Wolves Foundation. “Karl Henry, Matt Murray and Danny Batth have worked tirelessly to achieve the target they set, encouraging others to donate, creating new ways for fans to show their support, really demonstrating their passion and commitment to Wolverhampton.
“The NHS is continuing to serve our community with great courage and determination, so we all hope that this collective fundraising effort can support them in their actions to protect us all.”
Wolves Former Players Association had helped kick off the fundraising with a £5,000 donation, in line with their now annual support of local charities.
“Reaching the target is due to a great team effort from so many people including former players and staff, and Wolves supporters, alongside everything the owners and the first team squad had provided already to the NHS in Wolverhampton,” said John Richards, legendary former Wolves striker and now Vice-Chairman of the Former Players Association.
“The Former Players Association were delighted to get involved to help Karl and everyone involved with a £5,000 donation, and it has been fantastic to see former players and staff from so many different eras so keen to make a contribution.
“It just goes to show what we all know - how special a club Wolves is and how much it supports the community in Wolverhampton - and we continue to send our very best wishes to the staff on the front line at New Cross Hospital and across the country who are doing such a courageous and vital job during these difficult times.”
As well as Lescott’s donation there were many others from players past and present, including the likes of Conor Coady, Matt Doherty, Matt Jarvis, Stephen Ward, Richard Stearman and Dave Edwards, whilst supporter Steve Plant donated a prized Coady framed shirt, Robbie Dennison’s wife Denise handed over a fantastic painting of Captain Tom Moore, and Wolves’ programme artist Louise Cobbold organised a raffle with the first prize of a framed canvas of Adama Traore. Wolves supporters Jason Guy and Steve Saul also organised a weekly quiz, which has seen several former players taking part, which raised over £1,000.
Professor Steve Field CBE, The Royal Wolverhampton Hospital NHS Trust Chairman, said: “We have a long established and hugely valued relationship with Wolves and this is yet another demonstration of the outstanding support we enjoy from the club and its wider family, including former players and supporters. The generosity of this contribution underlines the strength of the bond between the Trust and the club. This donation will be put to good use immediately by going towards kitting out the two new wards currently under construction at New Cross Hospital, and serve as a lasting legacy of the money raised by former Wolves players and staff and the club's supporters.”