A team of football playing growers from the Vale of Evesham has raised over £27,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and for Cancer Research UK.
Made up of growers from horticultural businesses in the local area, Growers Utd FC was started in 2012 by Bal Padda, of Vicarage Nurseries at Bretforton.
“The aim was to raise money for charity while using football as a vehicle to bring together the many different nationalities working in the UK horticultural industry,” explains Bern Jordan, area sales manager at horticultural suppliers BHGS, and a committee member at Evesham Utd FC. “Evesham Utd has a number of pitches and with an active kids programme were only too pleased to provide a venue for us.”
It all kicked off on a very wet November evening in 2012 when Growers Utd played Evesham Utd in a friendly - proceeds going to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and to support a local child diagnosed with cancer.
By 2013 the annual event had grown into one-day 9-a-side tournament with 24 teams. The following year 32 teams competed over a weekend. This year it has grown in to a two-weekend affair with teams of growers taking part from across the UK horticultural industry – soft fruit, vegetable, protected salads, ornamentals and parks and gardens sectors.
“Teams are coming from as far afield as Poole and East Anglia as well as a team from West Mercia Police and Wychavon District Council,” says Bern. “Last weekend Growers Utd played Liverpool Legends. This coming weekend 32 teams will play 9-a-side with Growers Utd then taking on the Soap Stars celebrity team on Sunday afternoon. We never dreamt the event would become so popular and we are obviously delighted it is raising so much money for charity.”
The match balls have been donated by ICL (formerly Everris), providers of leading precision nutrition, growing media, turf seed and plant protection products in the UK.