0 Sunderland AFC charity shortlisted

A North East football club is hoping to claim a new title after its charitable foundation was shortlisted for a prestigious industry award.

Sunderland AFC's charity, the Foundation of Light, has been named as one of eight finalists in the Best Football Community Scheme category at the Football Business Awards 2013.

The charity, which benefits around 42,000 people across the North East every year, is competing against entries from football's top flight, including Fulham and West Ham, as well as other big names in the sporting industry.

The winner of the highly-contested category will be named alongside more than a dozen other awards in a glittering ceremony at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge on Thursday, November 7.

Lesley Spuhler, CEO at the Foundation of Light, said: "Being shortlisted for the Football Business Awards 2013 is testament to the hard work and endeavour demonstrated by our staff, course participants and supporters over the last 12 months.

"We're very proud to be recognised like this but I believe that the Foundation's success is the success of a whole community and hope that they can celebrate this with us too."

Since being established more than 12 years ago, the Foundation of Light has worked with more than 100,000 children, young people and families across the North East.

In 2012 alone it delivered 35 different sporting and educational programmes, designed to help participants find work, improve their confidence or engage in sport, which were attended by more than 42,000 people aged between three and 84.

Many of these beneficiaries took part in a celebratory parade around the Stadium of Light during half time at the Black Cats' recent game against Manchester United, which also included various activities designed to raise awareness of the charity's work.

Margaret Byrne, Sunderland AFC CEO, said: "The Foundation of Light has had a huge impact on the North East community, as evident in the recent match day activities which really highlighted all their hard work.

"As a club we're extremely proud of what the Foundation has been able to achieve so far and we're thrilled that this has been recognised by the judging panel at the Football Business Awards 2013."

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Contact Kerry Haywood

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