Exeter City football supporters, Richard and Karen Jarvis, who live 5,000 miles from St James Park in El Paso, Texas have donated their season tickets to local charity, Exeter Community Initiatives, to distribute to people needing a special day out.
Exeter Community Initiatives is a local charity set up nearly 30 years ago to help people in the community who are marginalised because of poverty, disadvantage or who are socially isolated.
In more normal times, Richard and Karen, who are members of Exeter City Supporters’ Trust, would travel to St James Park from the United States to see one or two games a season but Covid restrictions have prevented the couple from doing so for the past two years. Instead, because of the time difference, the dedicated supporters start their match day routine at 7 am by tuning into Radio Devon an hour before kick-off, and then switch to iFollow when the teams come out to watch the match at 8 am for a 3 pm kick off every Saturday.
The couples’ tickets have been used this season by people who use Exeter Community Initiatives’ projects, as well as the charity’s staff and family. The charity has introduced children and some adults to their first ever City game.
Steven Chown, Chief Executive of Exeter Community Initiatives, said: “It’s often the small things that count and one of the good news stories this year has been the two season tickets for the IP Office Main Stand donated by Richard and Karen. The feedback from people has been amazing. For some, it was the first time they had ever been able to go to a game. Others said it gave them a chance to escape problems in their everyday life. We are so grateful to Richard and Karen and to the Supporters’ Trust for their continued support.”
Two people who met on Exeter Community Initiatives Transitions project, which supports people who struggle in groups and traditional social settings, have formed a firm friendship through attending matches together. One parent using the charity’s Family Resource project, which provides a specialist support worker for families experiencing challenges in their lives, was able to take his son to a match for his 10th birthday as a special treat.
Neil, who is part of the charity’s ReMade upcycling project using reclaimed materials, attended matches against Mansfield and Oldham Athletic. During his time with the project he built his own ukulele from scratch. The charity shared an Instagram video of Neil with his ukulele with Richard and Karen as a way of saying thanks.
Richard and Karen, said: “We were delighted to hear the tickets have served so well and thoroughly enjoyed the Instagram of Neil and the news of how the tickets have benefitted people who use Exeter Community Initiatives’ projects.”
Exeter Community Initiatives was approached by the Supporters’ Trust during the height of the first Covid lockdown and invited to become their charity partner. The partnership was officially launched in October 2020. The couple's tickets were entrusted to Exeter City Supporters' Trust to be used as it saw fit. It was the Trust who suggested the tickets be donated to Exeter Community Initiatives which has proved so successful.
Nick Hawker, Chair of Exeter City Supporters’ Trust, said: “This really is a brilliant example of what supporter ownership can be about. Supporters acting in, not only in the best interest of the club, but acting in the best interest of the community the club resides in. The support that Richard and Karen extend to the club, from so far away, is amazing but not only that, is matched by their generosity in donating their season tickets to an equally amazing community charity. As always, ‘proud to be a Grecian’ and proud to be associated with our friends at Exeter Community Initiatives.”
The partnership with the Supporters’ Trust has already helped Exeter Community Initiatives financially with donations; and with the ‘Secret Santa’ Appeal which raised £2,000 to provide struggling families with a Christmas gift.