Thanks to an act of generosity in a time of adversity, a corner of Malawi, 5,000 miles from Goodison Park, will be forever Everton.
John Mulcahy was a lifelong Blue – attending his first match in April 1976 when Everton defeated Stoke 2-1. John had Noonan Syndrome (NS), which, in spite of being relatively commonplace and having a major impact on lives, remains a comparatively little-known condition. The syndrome did not stop him from becoming a Lower Bullens season ticket holder and regular attendee at away fixtures. Sadly John’s health deteriorated in the last five years of his life before he passed away on December 21st 2014, aged forty-seven.
John’s parents, Frances and Bob, were determined to find a deserving new home for John’s collection of twenty-three Everton shirts; they located it thanks to KitAid. The charity was founded by Derrick Williams, who, on a humanitarian visit to Tanzania in 1988, was struck by the positive reaction his own football shirts had on local people. This inspired him to provide kit and equipment to children who often played bare-foot with improvised footballs. Since then KitAid has sent out over 350,000 kits to children and adults in forty countries across the world. John’s kits were delivered by KitAid to an orphanage in Mulanje, Malawi, in January 2015. So delighted were the players that they renamed their team ‘Mulcahy’s Young Soccer’ in John’s honour.
When Denise Barrett-Baxendale, CEO of Everton in The Community (EiTC), received a letter from Frances and Bob about their late son, she put them in touch with Paul Wharton at EFC Heritage Society, which is a member of the Club’s Super Community. The Society’s Richard Gillham met the couple and was thrilled to receive a donation of a large collection of Everton programmes from the family. These would be resold at pre-match St Luke’s help fund the Society’s work to record and celebrate Everton’s rich history (the Society also welcomes donations of football memorabilia for this purpose).
Left: A little boy sports an Everton top; Middle: Vanessa of Kitaid plus kit donated by Barnie-S with Graham Stuart and EFCHS’s Paul Wharton; Right: John Mulcahy.
Inspired by the Mulcahy’s generosity, and his own experiences in Nigeria, Richard pledged to make the Heritage Society’s pre-match exhibition at St Luke’s a KitAid donation point. He received encouragement and support from Janet Neville, the charity’s Merseyside co-ordinator as well as Carena Duffy of EiTC and Alistair James from Everton’s marketing team. After appeals on social media, Evertonians flooded the drop-off point with donations of kit (shirts, tracksuits, shorts and footwear). The Society was also “blown away” when County Road sports retailer, Barnie-s, donated some twenty boxes of kit.
Football is the universal game which brings together people from all backgrounds. By donating so generously to KitAid, Evertonians have shown how we can help bring a smile and a sense of belonging to others. So please do continue to bring your surplus kit (any club colours!) and football boots to the collection point upstairs at St Luke’s before our home games. Thank you for your support.
Mary Woodworth of Friends of Malawi Orphanages with Mulcahy’s team
The Everton kits have proved popular in the rest of the village
To learn more about Noonan Syndrome visit: www.noonansyndrome.org.uk