Albion in the Community (AITC) has unveiled a new wheelchair-accessible mini bus after fans helped raise £30,000 to pay for the vehicle.
Seagulls supporters responded to AITC’s Get Us to the Match fundraising campaign, which was launched earlier in the season, by donating more than £17,000 at the Albion’s home game with Norwich City.
One of the club’s directors who is a long-term supporter of AITC and its work had generously offered to match any money donated by fans to help AITC reach its target and was the charity’s guest at the recent official unveiling of the mini bus.
He was joined by players from a range of AITC’s regular sessions, including representatives of Brighton & Hove Albion Amputee FC, the charity’s powerchair teams, the adult elite disability programme and youngsters from the regional talent centres it runs on behalf of the FA.
Matt Dorn, chief executive officer at AITC, said the charity had been overwhelmed by the support it had received from fans and was confident the new mini bus would make a real difference.
He said: “As a charity we have always benefited hugely from the generosity of Albion supporters but to raise so much around one game is amazing.
“For someone to offer to match fund the total raised by fans was incredibly generous and enabled us to purchase the new mini bus, which we will now use to transport players from our disability football teams to and from matches.
“Representing Albion in the Community means so much to our players and this new mini bus will help more people not only take part in our sessions but also get the chance to travel go games and play competitive football.
“Not only that, but it will also be made available to take supporters who have a disability to Albion away games – giving more fans the chance to follow the Albion away from home.”
Seagulls fans were given a glimpse of the new mini bus outside the American Express Community Stadium before the final home game against Bristol City.
It will now begin to be used by AITC’s disability football teams, including the charity’s four squads that compete in national competitions. It will also help transport equipment used in the disability awareness training that AITC delivers to local businesses, schools and colleges.