Last week, staff and volunteers from the County in the Community team took part in a 50 mile walk to raise money for the We Wear the Same Shirt programme. The programme was created for people living with a mental health condition to have fun, exercise and enjoy sport without any pressure.
It’s a fantastic programme and County fans gave generously to the cause! The community side have so far raised and if you would like to donate, please head to the Club shop where there is a bucket for loose change or a sponsor form if you would like to give retrospectively to the amazing 50 mile walk!
Luke Degilbert, one of the stars of the We Wear the Same Shirt side, recently wrote a blog telling his story from growing up with Autism to joining sports teams such as the Dragons disability team and now the County in the Community sports team.
He writes “When I was born, I was in hospital as I had bad triggers because of my autism and when I was 8 or 9 I had to have operations on my leg as it was weak. [I then] had to have a frame on my leg with pins in which was painful. I had to have that on twice.”
Not that these challenges stopped Luke. A keen footballer, he writes about his first experiences of football at his school Maes Ebbw: “I was player of the tournament and scored goal from half way. [I] had a good season with my school.”
But this was cut short as problems with his leg persisted and he had to wear a frame again. After a season away from the sport he loved, Luke returned to play for Riverside Rovers before moving to 7-a-side. “I scored a lot goals in that team and played upfront” he wrote, “but since I fought hard times with my leg and stuff I [wanted to achieve] stuff like Race for Life which I did with college.”
Luke joined County in the Community’s We Wear the Same shirt side last season. He is the sides top striker and last season made the trip to Swindon Town for a friendly and was involved in the side which won the FAW’s We Wear the Same Shirt tournament at Dragon Park.
In his story, Luke writes: “I joined Newport County Community which was a great achievement and played games against Swindon and in a tournament at Dragon Park and won the tournament.”
Outside football, Luke has also been working hard at college. “I have received qualifications from college too which was good getting filmed to by a photographer.”
Summing an impressive year in football, Luke adds “I have had praise from managers and other footballers like [Darrius] Vassell which is amazing. I am proud I have come this far. My family have been great and I can’t thank everyone [enough for their] support. Everyone has been great to me and supported me through bad times and stuff to and I am so proud with what I have achieved.”
Norman Parselle, who coaches the We Wear the Same Shirt side, said: "Luke is a very popular player at the we wear the same shirt sessions. He is always willing to play in different positions and plays with a smile on his face. He never misses training and has improved on all aspects of play over the past year."
When telling his story, Luke looks ahead to a successful season ahead. He mentions how much he’s looking forward to another year with the County in the Community side; he’s hoping for another trip to Swindon Town. He’s also planning a charity walk for Alzheimer’s Society in October.
For more information about supporting County in the Community’s We Wear the Same shirt, please email Norman Parselle. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can donate by heading to the Club Shop and picking up a sponsor form!