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News story

Supporting Champion Children at Middlesbrough FC

09 Jan 2020

Ashley Fletcher Middlesbrough Reads

For the fifth year, Middlesbrough Reads supported the local football club with their Champion Children event. On 17 December, 40 young people from the local area were invited to the Riverside for an unforgettable Christmas party, and we were able to offer a little extra thanks to support from publishers.

Middlesbrough FC puts on a Christmas party every year to spread festive cheer and celebrate the champion qualities of local children who have been nominated via their local community for a variety of reasons; they may have lost a parent, are seriously ill, or are a young carer.

This Christmas, children were joined by players from Middlesbrough FC's first team, including striker Ashley Fletcher. There were lots of fun and games too – including a visit from Father Christmas!

With help from Penguin Random House, Walker, and Pan Macmillan, we were able to gift each child an age appropriate book to take home. New research shows that 1 in 10 disadvantaged children in Middlesbrough do not own a single book, meaning that they are missing out on reaching their full potential. Children who do own books are six times more likely to read above the expected level for their age. Our research also shows that reading has a positive impact on a child’s mental wellbeing, which is vital for those who face hardship.

Other organisations and local projects got involved with the day too including Frankie & Benny’s, Hollywood Bowl, and Nando’s, who all provided vouchers, whilst WHSmith and the MFC Foundation provided creative activities, alongside face painters and balloon modellers too.

“I’ve been to this event for a few years now, and every year it’s really lovely. It’s great to see the community come together to help support local young people at what can be a difficult time of year. I’m really proud that we are a part of this event, and are able to promote a love for reading amongst these children”.

Allison Potter, Middlesbrough Reads Manager

“This is one of our highlights of the year. It’s our way of giving back something to youngsters in our community. There’s children who look after siblings who are fighting illness, or have sadly lost parents or family members in tragic circumstances. There’s children who thrive on good deeds, shopping for an elderly neighbour or caring for a sick relative, and it’s our aim to give our Champion Caring Children a fun-filled afternoon at a party that promises to be one of the best on Teesside.”

Yvonne Fergusson, Head of Supporter Services at Middlesbrough Football Club
Middlesbrough Football Club Champion Children

If you know of any young people from the local area who you’d like to nominate for the 2020 Christmas party, please email

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