Tribute to legend raises charity cash

by Stuart Vose

Club donates proceeds from special event to Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Sunderland AFC have shown their support for the Nelson Mandela Foundation by raising money for the charity at a special dinner.

The Stadium of Light played host to a 70th birthday event for club legend Jimmy Montgomery, with the former goalkeeper’s friends and family in attendance alongside club officials, ex-players and supporters.

All monies raised were passed on to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, who exist to help spread the former South African president’s message of social justice and equality.

Chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang (pictured), attended the evening and spoke to guests about the Foundation’s work, while proceeds from an exclusive auction were also donated to the charity.

Sunderland AFC’s commercial director, Gary Hutchinson, said: “The Nelson Mandela Foundation's message is one of equality, diversity and anti-racism and is an excellent cause.

“They are a massive player in Africa, where the club is growing rapidly. We are the only club in the world to be associated with the Nelson Mandela Foundation – a true world first.

“It’s a great partnership for us."

The night saw a special surprise for Jimmy, who won the FA Cup with Sunderland in 1973 and is the club’s all-time record appearance-maker with an incredible 627 games played.

The Banqueting Suite at the Stadium of Light was officially renamed the Montgomery Suite in honour of the club's first official ambassador, who was overwhelmed by the gesture and delighted to be able to support the charity.

“It’s fantastic to be able to support such a worthy cause,” Jimmy added.

“I’m an emotional man and I’m glad I’ve been able to keep myself together.

“It was a lovely surprise and a great evening with my family and friends and the football club that I love.”