• Bedworth Co-op manager Pamela Sharman (centre) is pictured welcoming the Under 14s Poppys girls team when they called in at the store with their manager Abbie Lyall and coach Neil Worwood.

Thursday 2nd February 2023

A junior girls football team is turning out in style for its league matches after netting a £750 grant for a new kit from Warwickshire’s biggest independent retailer.

Bulkington Poppys’ under 14 squad is sporting new smart purple shirts with black shorts, thanks to the award from the Heart of England Co-operative Society.

The players are certainly doing justice to their fresh look, with good wins recently in the Coventry and Warwickshire Youth League, including a 3-1 victory over Southam United.

Poppys committee member Jayne Scott said: “Everyone at the club is so grateful for this donation. It has been enough to fully kit out all 16 members of the team.

“The girls are continuing to learn and grow, and they all look forward to going to the matches on Saturdays with their coach Abbie Lyall. They really enjoy playing the game and come off the pitch each week with a big smile on their faces.”

Poppys FC has been continually expanding since it was established by Luke Hennerley and Paul Dunn. As well as a men’s senior team in the Coventry Alliance Division 1, it has six boys, girls and mixed junior teams catering for various ages – with plans down the line to add a senior women’s team.

“We currently have three generations of youth players who have spent their entire junior football career with Poppys. Four of them are now 19 and playing in the men’s senior team,” added Jayne.

A total of 16 charities and worthy causes in the Nuneaton area shared £4,500 in the latest round of handouts from the Co-op’s Helping Hearts Awards Scheme. The Poppys side received the largest amount.

Further donations of £500 each were made to Whitestone Over 60s Club for entertainment and days out, Warwickshire CAVA (Community and Voluntary Action) for specialist floor cleaning equipment and C & J’s Play & Stay to buy cushions, flooring and dolls. CAVA engages with the local community in various ways, including organising activities for young people with disabilities, Adult Community Learning sessions and a keep fit group for the over 60s.

Three organisations in Attleborough benefited. Attleborough Baptist Church was awarded £300 to fund a community gathering for around 65 people, with the money going on gifts for vulnerable children, a meal and the cost of hiring musicians. It was also previously handed £200 by the Heart of England Co-op for its Jubilee celebrations.

Attleborough Community Matters received £150 to pay for pumpkins and treats for a Halloween trail. Another £75 went to Grange Care Centre for Dementia to buy a Christmas hamper.

Two groups in Stockingford were also awarded cash. St Paul’s Church spent its £300 grant on working with local primary schools to provide festive bags for families in need, while Stockingford Recreation Ground Group used its £200 to help set up a consultation committee.

Other recipients included Manor Court Baptist Church in Nuneaton which was given £200 to buy educational equipment for Ukrainian refugees. A grant of £300 funded a community Christmas dinner in Nuneaton for 100 people.

All Saints Church in Chilvers Coton, Coventry and Warwickshire MIND, Caldwell Grange and Market Bosworth Free Church were each awarded £100.

Since its launch in 2002 the Helping Hearts scheme has distributed more than £1.15m to charities and deserving causes.

Catherine Evans, Heart of England Co-op’s community and membership adviser, said:

“Supporting the areas that we trade is in our DNA.  We donate a minimum of £50,000 each year to deserving community causes. We would like to hear from any local charities or community organisations in need of support.”

To apply for a Helping Hearts award, email [email protected] with details about your group and how you would use the money.