Community | Celebrating our Community Heroes

The work of the club’s community department can often go ‘under the radar’, but we think all the dedication and fantastic initiatives they deliver should be celebrated. In this piece we delve into lives of the unsung heroes that work in and among our community.

The County in the Community Trust is one of 72 league clubs affiliated to The Football League Trust, delivering sporting projects and schemes for everyone in Newport, Monmouthshire and Torfaen.

Formed in September 2013, County in the Community has endeavoured to deliver and increase participation for people aged three to 83. Under the guidance of The Football League Trust, the Community team meet the five key themes - Sports Participation, Health, Education, Social Inclusion and the Environment.

County in the Community deliver these themes mainly through football sessions, projects and schemes in and around the Newport area to engage local people and create a positive experience through the power of Newport County AFC. Some of the projects the Community run include Ladies football, Futsall, Walking Football to the ‘We Wear the Same Shirt’ campaign.

But all these fantastic events would not be possible without the fantastic volunteers and staff that facilitate them.

So, we spoke to three key individuals - Gareth Marshman, Andrew Silverthorne and Luke Degilbert, to see why they volunteer at County in the Community.

Gareth Marshman, matchday co-ordinator at County in the Community: “I have been a lifelong Newport County fan who started volunteering for the club as the mascot co-ordinator in 2006 when the club were playing in the Blue Square Conference South. I have been involved for nearly 18 years now.

“In 2012 I joined the Newport County Supporters Trust. Then on our return to the Football League in 2013, the club set up County in the Community and employed Norman Parselle as its Community Officer. The club approached the Trust and asked them if they had anybody who could assist Norman at all Newport County home games with the matchday visit which was being set up. This is something that really interested me, and I was very keen to get involved.

“I volunteered for the County in the Community for 10 years and was part of the Trust Board that took ownership of the club in October 2015. I only remained on the board for short period before stepping down to concentrate on my role with the County in the Community.

In January 2023, I was then successful in being offered a part-time paid role as the matchday co-ordinator. Then in September 2023, the County in the Community were successful in securing funding of £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund for a volunteer co-ordinator which

formed part of my role, This then allowed me to support the volunteers who assist not only on matchdays but across all the County in the Community programmes that we deliver.”

Luke DeGilbert, County in the Community volunteer: “I have been a volunteer with the County in the Community team for the last six years. It has given me a purpose in life as I don’t think I would be doing much otherwise.

“It has helped me build my confidence and given me the focus to achieve more in everyday life. I have worked alongside Gareth for six years as a volunteer and his experience and knowledge as the volunteer co-Ordinator for the Community will only benefit myself and others who chose to join the team.”

Andrew Silverthorne, County in the Community volunteer: “It’s one of my proudest achievements in life joining the County in the Community team.

“The pleasure I get from giving a bit of time back is massive. I absolutely love the thought of making a different to the children’s day when they join us at Rodney Parade for a Newport County match.”

Saturday’s League Two victory over Wrexham was dedicated to our fantastic community team. So, if you see them around on matchdays, be sure to give them a wave and thank them for being our very own community heroes.