Since the early 2000s Ian Thomas, our Business Development Manager, has been connected with Withymoor Colts AFC. As part of his time there, and through his organisation of social events as part of the committee, he grew close to a wonderful couple, Simon and Lynn Wilkes, and their two sons Ben and Olly. Ian describes this club as a truly special “Community Club” and the members’ passion does not stop at football. The club is a community which gives back every year to numerous nominated charities and causes.
Simon and Olly Wilkes
Devastating news hit the club in August 2013 when Simon Wilkes was diagnosed with blood cancer. Not one to feel sorry for himself, the Wilkes family and the wider community started fundraising and promoting the Anthony Nolan Trust – an organisation that focuses on encouraging young adult volunteers under the age of 30 to sign up to donate stem cells, should a match come up for those with blood disorders and cancers. Despite the 1 in 18,000 chance of physically being asked to donate your stem cells, not one but two of the 92 Withymoor volunteers have been matched. The club and the community are very proud of all who stepped forward, and want to give a special mention to Sam Astley who missed England’s Euro Semi Final Win in last year’s Euros because he was matched against someone that needed his stem cells.
Sadly, tragedy struck the Wilkes family again in April 2017 when Olly took his own life at the age of 22. As you can appreciate, this completely broke the family and at Olly’s funeral there were over 600 mourners in attendance.
Withymoor Colts AFC, a Community Club
Since Olly’s passing, Withymoor began annually celebrating and remembering his life through a number of charity events. This includes the Olly Wilkes Memorial Football Tournament in association with Withymoor Colts AFC. The first event in 2018 raised £10,200 that was equally split between a permanent memorial for Olly, Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital, the PKD Charity and the Isla Rose Foundation. You can read more about this fantastic event here. In 2020, a week before the pandemic struck, the club held a black tie event – Olly’s Heavenly Ball – with a raffle and auction in order to celebrate what would have been Olly’s 25th birthday, hosted by Rennicks’ Ian Thomas. The event and all the efforts helped raise £3,600 for the West Midlands Air Ambulance. In May of this year, Simon’s wife Lynn completed a wing walk for the Anthony Nolan Trust, raising over £2,000. Remarkable fundraising efforts from the team and everyone involved.
On 25th June 2022, Withymoor are hosting another event with money raised being equally split between Withymoor Colts AFC, the MDS Support Group for blood disorders and also the Lily Mae Foundation who offer support to parents and families after a stillbirth, neonatal death, miscarriage or medical termination. This upcoming event also coincides with the celebration of two people who are leaving Withymoor Colts service after 50 years of service. With our very own Ian Thomas as Master of Ceremonies, Auctioneer in Chief and the After Party Host, it’s set to be a fantastic event!
Rennicks supports Withymoor Colts AFC
Robert Tait, Sales Director at Rennicks said, “We are proud to have a connection to this fantastic community football club through Ian and can see how much this club means to him and all those involved. As our way of showing support for these worthwhile causes, we’ve donated a Galaxy Smartpad to be won at the June charity event.”
In response to the donation, Simon Wilkes said, “Thank you so so much for your kind donation of a Galaxy A8 tablet to go into our Grand Raffle draw at our up and coming Olly Wilkes Memorial Football Tournament, what a fantastic prize to donate. So grateful that our wonderful family friend for 20+ years Ian “Tommo” Thomas reached out to Rennicks for a prize. Ian has been so supportive to us as a family. We are passionate about what we do in our community and can only thank you once again for your generosity and being a part of what we hope will be another memorable day.”
If you would like to support the cause, please click on any of the links shown in this blog. Any donations would be much appreciated and will go a long way for all the charities involved.