GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) firefighters and Grenfell Athletic, a team made up of survivors from the Grenfell tragedy, battled it out on the football pitch on Friday evening to raise money for charity.
The final score was 2-1 to GMFRS during the heavily contested match, which saw players Carlos Meakin and Kyle Barrett score goals for the team. Chief Fire Officer Dave Russel also joined the GMFRS team to show his support.
It is the second time the GMFRS team have played a friendly match against the Grenfell Athletic team, with this year’s event taking place at Hyde United Football Club in Tameside on Friday, 12th August. The match was organised to raise funds for charity, with donations on the door going to Grenfell Athletic to support the development of the club, as well as The Fire Fighters charity.
Grenfell Athletic was set up in response to the tragic fire at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Kensington, London, on 14th June, 2017. The fire caused the deaths of 72 people. The Grenfell Athletic team was founded by Rupert Taylor and aims to support the mental health and solidarity of the group of young men who make up the squad, as well as the families who were bereaved that day.
Last year, the team took part in a tour playing against other fire service teams. It was such a success the tour has now become an annual event, with this year other emergency service teams also participating and local football teams, including Northumbria Police, Drumchapel United and London Fire Brigade.
Before the match kicked-off both teams held a 72-second silence in memory of the people who died in the Grenfell tragedy. GMFRS players also wore a unique kit containing the names of fallen UK firefighters to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Dave Russel, GMFRS Chief Fire Officer, said: “The Greater Manchester Fire Service football team is honoured to join forces once again with Grenfell Athletic to help raise funds for two very important charities. I would like to thank the team for involving us in the amazing work they do, and we are committed to continuing to build the friendship we have made with the players.
“This year marks five years since the Grenfell tragedy took place and in Greater Manchester our thoughts will always be with those that lost their lives and the families who have been affected. It is inspiring to see the way the team has brought people together and is creating something so positive following the terrible events that day.”
Rupert Taylor, founder of Grenfell Athletic, said: “We have really enjoyed being back in Greater Manchester again and back on the pitch with GMFRS. The football tour was organised last year to build relationships with UK fire and rescue services, raise money for our charity but also to help support the mental health of our team, who still live with the trauma of that day. We were also recently granted charity status in May this year.
“Following the success of last year’s tour we’re back again and have expanded to include other emergency service teams. Our aim is to raise as much money as possible for charity and also give our players some time away from W10 and W11. I would like to thank Leon Dally from GMFRS, and the GMFRS team, for the friendship we’re built following the foundations we put in place last year.”
Following the success of the England team in the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 championship, both Grenfell Athletic and GMFRS have also established women’s teams in the last year. Both GMFRS and Grenfell are hoping to develop and grow the women’s teams in the coming months.
GMFRS is also using the opportunity of the match to raise awareness of the ongoing work of Greater Manchester’s High Rise and Building Safety Taskforce. In wake of the Grenfell fire, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham launched the taskforce to ensure all residents homes were made safe as quickly as possible.
The taskforce, led by Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Paul Dennett, is currently working to ensure that the changes in legislation coming into force from January 2023 which affect flats and other multi-occupied buildings deliver improved safety for residents and that remediation of high rise buildings continues with residents protected from the costs.
Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, Deputy Mayor for Greater Manchester, the city-region’s Lead for Homelessness, Healthy Lives & Quality Care and Chair of Greater Manchester’s High Rise and Building Safety Taskforce, said: “Tonight saw Greater Manchester and London come together to raise money for two fantastic causes and we’re proud of the ties we have made with the Grenfell Athletic team. I would like to thank Grenfell Athletic and the GMFRS teams for everything they are doing to raise awareness and the support they are giving to the Grenfell community, as well as The Fire Fighter’s charity.
“In the five years since the Grenfell Tower fire took place Greater Manchester has been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of residents living in blocks of flats. Through the taskforce, we are currently making sure that fire safety is improved across both social and privately owned buildings. Not only are the new requirements going to improve the lives of people living in Greater Manchester, but they will also improve the safety of firefighters attending incidents across the city-region.”
15/08/2022 11:58 AM