Newcastle United Foundation, the charitable arm of Newcastle United, hosted their 2021 awards night at a vibrant St James’ Park on Tuesday.
The annual awards night highlights supporters who have used the power of football with the Foundation to their advantage, helping them overcome difficult times.
The North East Charity of the Year 2021 “currently delivers 43 individual community, employability, educational and health and wellbeing projects in schools and community venues from Berwick to County Durham, as well as support from within the charity’s base at St. James’ Park.”
Club icons like Demba Ba, Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi were in attendance alongside directors Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi.
The main event was the #UnitedAsOne awards: a night to celebrate the inspirational backgrounds of Newcastle United supporters.
Daniel Hassan won the Helen McArdle Young Achiever award for his remarkable recovery from previously-undiagnosed acute transverse myelitis.
His mum, Balsam said: “I played a game of chess with Daniel and he played with his brother. 10 minutes later we heard him screaming.
“Then it was very obvious very quickly that he was in so much pain.”
Daniel said: “Literally all my function in my body had gone. Nothing was literally working. I had to go to the intensive care unit for 6 months in hospital.”
“As time went on,” Daniel added, “I gradually knew this is my reality but I’ve got to live it.”
With the Foundation’s support, Daniel was supported throughout his recovery from a “one-in-a-million” condition “playing adapted sports, learning and laughing again.”
Kacy Metcalfe was given the Young Leader Award for transforming her life through football.
Sarah Burn, Project Officer with the Foundation, said: “When she started, she was very quiet. She didn’t actually really like football.
“Now, she’s playing in a grassroots club, she’ll help run a warm-up, she’ll help lead the session, when you talk to her she’s very confident.
Kacy’s dad, Craig, said: “It’s just something she excels at. She just like the fitness side of it, the competitive side of it and just being part of a team.
“You can just see her confidence is blooming on and off the field.”
Thomas Atkinson scooped the Disability Player of the Year award.
The Foundation notes that “Now 17 and using one goalie glove, he’s the top shot-stopper for our Amputee Team and for England” despite “Growing up without his left arm or leg.
Thomas said: “We’ve got three coaches: Robbie, Andy and Reggie that are fully committed to just improving us off the pitch, on the pitch.
“They believe in every single one of us and they just try and make us better. They really are great guys.
“They’re like an embodiment of the Newcastle United Foundation so well.”
The Adult Learner award winner was Faiequl Alom, who was pushed to take up street football.
As a result Faiequl became a grassroots coach and the Foundation add “street football changed his life.”
Faiequl said: “I think football is a big escape for me because like I said when I was a kid all I used to do was watch football, play football.
“I’ve always had that dream [to play football], like an ambition to be in football anyways.
“But I didn’t think it would happen as soon as it already has.
“I’ve matured a lot, it’s like a different me. Like I said most of that goes to the Foundation.”
Football Talks won the Highly Commended accolade for their role promoting a supportive service for older generations.
The Foundation said: “Older generations facing lockdown alone have met weekly for an informal video call through our Football Talks group. Chatting and reminiscing together, members support each other alongside our team.”
The principal #UnitedAsOne award was won by Josh Banyard, whose live was saved by the #BeAGameChanger campaign started by the Foundation.
Josh said: “Life for me was a struggle, it was a dark, dark place.
“I’ve always used Newcastle United as my mental health escape and finding something in the Newcastle United Foundation that helps support my mental health while being around the club that I love was huge.
“By sharing my story, it really helped me and I didn’t expect it to.
“I always credit to to the Foundation and it’s brilliant staff because without it, I wouldn’t be here.”
The final award for the evening was handed to the Murray House Committee which won the Alder Sweeney award.
“Anne, Habib, John, Lynn and Sheila changed countless lives over the decades at Murray House”, the Foundation said.
“We’re incredibly proud to continue their legacy at NUCASTLE, powered by Newcastle Building Society.”
Meanwhile Gary Speed MBE and Shay Given were inducted into the Newcastle United Hall of Fame.
Speed made 213 appearances for Newcastle, scoring 29 goals before passing away in 2011 while Given appeared 354 times in a 12-year association with the club.
The Newcastle United Foundation uses “the local passion for football to make a difference and help people achieve their goals, on the pitch, in the classroom, in life.” Its annual awards night recognises these differences and celebrates the inspiring stories fans have to share.