A Darley Dale resident has collected a huge haul of football kits which he will donate to Palestinian refugees when he visits the West Bank in March.
Mental health support worker Mark Daly, 46, will spend a week volunteering in a refugee camp and put out a call for donations of kits to distribute to children in the camp.
Mark said: “The response has been amazing already, and I’ve had promises of more to come. The generosity of this community has been fantastic and I really appreciate it.”
Clubs including Rowsley and Darley Dale have donated team kits to the appeal, while residents have donated shirts their children have outgrown.
Mark said: “It’s something that struck me while coaching my daughter’s team – seeing kids here with lots of different kits, then looking at children in other parts of the world.
“There was a story in the news about a Syrian boy wearing a plastic bag with Lionel Messi’s name on the back, and that really struck a chord.”
As well as working on football programmes, Mark will be teaching English and getting involved in cultural exchange activities around Hebron.
He said: “I lived in Israel in the early 1990s, visited Palestine, and saw two sides of an amazing place.
“All I ever experienced was warmth from people on both sides.
“I always swore I would go back and when I heard the United States was pulling all aid funding to Palestine I wanted to do something.”
The success of his appeal has also prompted Mark to think about developing his idea when he returns home.
He said: “I’d like to set up a ‘sport bank’, like a food bank for people who can’t afford to enjoy sport.
“I’ve had businesses and other groups say they would like to be involved.”
To support Mark’s transport costs, go to https://goo.gl/TxJnzz.
To donate a kit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.