Building on the success of EFL Week of Action, the EFL Community Weekend activation aims to show the breadth and depth of Club Community work during these weekends to match-going fans across the league.
In the run up to Blackpool FC’s recent home game against Exeter City on Saturday, Blackpool FC Community Trust and the Club highlighted members of our community who have been awarded ‘Community Heroes’ for their support.
As a small thanks for all of their hard work, they were invited to attend Saturday’s fixture in the Matthews Suite as part of the Club’s hospitality offering.
Rob Plant has been Blackpool FC Ladies first team manager for four seasons, volunteering his time to recruit players, build a strong coaching team, delivering weekly training programmes and manage the squad on match days. Over recent seasons Rob has continued to improve the Blackpool FC Ladies first team squad, creating a group of players that are proud to represent Blackpool FC and play the ‘Blackpool way’.
Rob’s positivity, enthusiasm and football experience creates a fantastic work environment which helps the players flourish and sets a fantastic example to his coaching staff.
Last season Rob was successful in guiding the Ladies to promotion to the NW Woman’s Regional Football League Premier Division and won the Lancashire County Cup.
Marc Joseph, Head of Early Years and Primary at Blackpool FC Community Trust said,
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Rob for all his hard work. He has shown true dedication to the Blackpool FC Ladies team and as a result, has supported them to build on their successes.”
Cliff first engaged with Blackpool FC Community Trust when attending the Food Collection point as a volunteer with The Big Food Truck in December 2022. An initiative set up by Blackpool Food Bank, The Big Food Truck attends our North Stand Community Hub on a Tuesdays with preordered food parcels for the local community. As part of his volunteering role, Cliff delivered food and helped pack parcels.
Cliff is retired after a career in management and was looking to busy himself in his community without the stresses that came with his career. After speaking to Blackpool FC Community Trust staff, he was interested in the work that we were doing with the free Family Hubs and the support we were giving to local families on a daily basis. As a result he attended a couple of sessions to see what is was all about.
Immediately Cliff bonded with a number of the families and thoroughly enjoyed his time on the hub. From there, he was offered a volunteering role to help support for the rest of winter. Fast forward a year and after continuing to support with our summer family hubs, Cliff is now a paid member of staff.
Rachel, Community Navigation and Living Support Manager said,
“Cliff is such a positive person, getting involved in the families, listening to the parents and spending time playing with the children as well as constantly clearing up and tidying. He brings biscuits into the sessions and takes them around the room ensuring that all the children get some as desert after their hot meal. When the winter hubs restarted in 2023 Cliff was offered a paid role as a lead member of staff. He has earned this position by being consistent, reliable, and honest. Thank you”
Over the last two years, Cliff has completed over 600 hours of volunteering with Blackpool FC Community Trust including his volunteering for Blackpool Foodbank and helps to support over 100 families.
Well done Cliff and thank you for being one of our ‘Community Heroes’ as part of EFL Community Weekends.
Katie Normanton (BTEC L3, Year 1 student) – Blackpool FC Sports College
Learner of the term September – December 2023.
A Rising Star: Katie Normanton’s Remarkable Academic and Professional Journey so far, this academic year!
Katie Normanton, a dedicated and motivated student, has set the bar high in her academic pursuits and extracurricular activities during the first three months of the academic year. Her commitment to excellence, both in her studies and in her community involvement, has positioned her as a rising star in the field of sports coaching.
Katie has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to her academic studies, consistently producing work of a high standard that aligns with the merit/distinction criteria. Her dedication to academic excellence is reflected in her outstanding performance, and she continues to set ambitious goals for herself.
Throughout last term, Katie dedicated an impressive 100 hours to volunteering with the Community Trust, contributing to Sports Camps and Tiny Tangerines. Her enthusiasm and hard work did not go unnoticed, leading to her enrolment on the FA safeguarding, first aid, and introduction to football coaching courses—expenses covered by the Community Trust as a gesture of gratitude for her commitment and to foster her professional development.
Katie’s commitment extends beyond the classroom and Community Trust. In her weekly placement with Tiny Tangerines, she consistently takes on more responsibilities, showcasing her ability to communicate effectively and support individual needs for children aged 18 months to 7 years. Her willingness to learn and support others demonstrates her leadership potential.
Outside of college, Katie has actively sought additional coaching experiences with her sister’s grassroots football club. Her reliability and commitment to these weekly sessions highlight her passion for coaching and her understanding of the importance of practical experience in the field.
Katie’s dedication was further evident during the NCS residential in November, where she gave her all throughout the week. Her perfect attendance record and punctuality—being one of the first students through the door every morning—showcases her exemplary work ethic and commitment to her academic and extracurricular pursuits.
With her strong foundation in academic achievement, community involvement, and coaching experience, Katie has positioned herself for a successful career as a sports coach. If she continues to meet and exceed the high expectations, she sets for herself, the future holds endless opportunities for her to fulfil her career aspirations. The Blackpool FC Sports College community is immensely proud of Katie’s achievements and looks forward to supporting her continued growth and success in her pursuit of a career in sports coaching during her time with us.
Caroline Hawes Blackpool FC Sports College Manager said:
“Katie Normanton’s journey is a testament to the positive impact that dedication, hard work, and a passion for one’s field can have on both academic and professional success. The Community Trust is immensely proud of Katie’s achievements and looks forward to supporting her continued growth and success in her pursuit of a career in sports coaching during her time at Blackpool FC Sports College.”
Tony Wilkinson has been a loyal Blackpool fan for over 50 years.
In the wake of the great stadium clean-up by supporters for the Homecoming fixture in March 2019, Tony formed and continues to organise the BFC Volunteers group, which regularly litter-picks the stands and cleans the seats at Bloomfield Road before and after home games. He also carries out other refurbishing jobs at the request of the stadium manager. In the winter months Tony volunteers one or two afternoons a week at the Warm Hub, organised by the Community Trust at Bloomfield Road. His dedicated enthusiasm in voluntary work to help the Club he loves is outstanding.
Dave Maclean, Community Engagement Manager at Blackpool FC Community Trust said,
“Tony Wilkinson, a true hero at the ‘Pool Together’ hubs. He’s a friendly face making a difference in people’s lives during the cost-of-living crisis. His volunteering isn’t just about helping out; it’s about creating a warm space where everyone can feel safe, have fun, and connect with new friends. Tony’s dedication shows that when we lend a hand, we build a stronger and more caring community for all.”
For more information about Blackpool FC Community Trust visit: www.bfcct.co.uk, call: 01253 348 691 or follow BFCCT on social media.