• Burbage Panthers pictured in their new kit with team lead coach Chris Newman.

Monday 30th January 2023

A junior soccer team in Burbage has ‘corner-ed’ the football fashion market after landing a stylish new red and black striped strip from a major sponsor.

FC Burbage’s under 14s Panthers’ junior team used its £750 grant from the Heart of England Co-operative Society to kit out the entire 22-strong squad.

Team secretary Simon Smith says the gift has injected a fresh sense of pride and purpose into the side which plays in the Leicester and District Junior Sunday League.

“The money came at just the right time for us as the old kit was getting very tired,” he said.

“The boys were having to make do with shirts of all shapes and sizes and to be honest some tops even had slightly different designs to others. Now every player has got a new strip to treasure. We’re extremely grateful to the Heart of England Co-op for giving us such a generous amount of money. The boys are made up and everyone at the club really does appreciate this gesture.”

The Panthers, who play at Sketchley Hill Park Farm, won promotion to a higher league last year. However, Simon points out that the team’s philosophy is more about the love of the game than winning every match.

The donation was one of nine handed to charities and deserving community groups in the Hinckley area during the latest round of awards from the Society’s Helping Hearts Awards Scheme.

12th Hinckley Methodist Guides put its £500 donation towards a trip to Switzerland, while the £250 allocated to Hereford Way Social Group will help it to purchase entertainment equipment.

All Saints Primary School and Richmond Primary School each received £200 worth of gift vouchers and the Sapcote Bloom Group was given £150 worth of mince pies and mulled wine for a festive celebration.

The Moat House Care Home in Burbage was handed £100 of goodies for a fundraising raffle, with Stoney Stanton Parish Council receiving £200 to buy food for Christmas parcels. Earl Shilton Methodist Church was also awarded £200 to help set up a community café and book shop.

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

Helping Hearts scheme has raised more than £1.15m for charities and worthy causes since its launch in 2000.

“Supporting the areas we trade in is part of our DNA and 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 grant, email [email protected] with details about your group and how you would use the money.