Aston Villa are delighted to announce that the Club's 'Acorns Day' fundraising activities raised an outstanding total of £195,463.44 - virtually enough to run an Acorns hospice for ONE MONTH!
For the second successive season the Club dedicated a home match day to a series of events in aid of our official charity partner.
Last year's efforts reached a superb total of £108,835 when the Villa Board matched the figure raised by a series of events from fun runs to cake sales, classic car washes to an online auction, dress down days to family fun activities which took place on the day of the Fulham game.
This year's fundraising appeal coincided with Villa's 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers and brought together Villa supporters and staff, players and management and people from the local community and far further afield in an incredible push to amass vital funds to provide the necessary care for more than 600 local life-limited and life-threatened children.
The Club's aim once again was to raise £50,000 - the amount of money it takes to run an Acorns hospice for one week.
Villa's players donated percentages of match fees and win bonuses and their match-worn shirts from the game against QPR were all up for grabs on eBay along with other rare items of memorabilia.
The Club's official vehicle supplier, Fiat, donated a trip to Legoland Resort as a raffle prize for the second year running and Guest Fiat/Alfa of Wolverhampton offered a Fiat 500 as a Win A Car prize with all proceeds going to Acorns.
The grand total raised almost doubled our target - a gratifying £97,731.72.
This sum has been matched by the Villa Board to produce the fabulous final figure.
David Strudley, CEO of Acorns, and the children and families of Acorns were present to receive the cheque for £195,463.44 on behalf of Acorns Children's Hospice this morning at Villa's Bodymoor Heath Training Ground which was handed over by Villa CEO Paul Faulkner, Villa manager Paul Lambert and Villa's Acorns ambassador Gabby Agbonlahor.
On behalf of the Villa Board, Villa Chief Executive Paul Faulkner said: "We are immensely proud of everyone associated with Aston Villa - our fans, players and staff at Bodymoor Heath and Villa Park - for the phenomenal amount of money they have raised for Acorns during our annual Acorns Day activities.
"For a number of years now, Acorns has been very close to the hearts of everyone who loves our great Club, and once again the Villa family has come together to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves and to support those who work every day at the Acorns hospices, making other peoples' lives better.
"I'm especially delighted once again by the way our fans supported this campaign, emphasising again the depth and enduring nature of our relationship with Acorns.
"David has said it many times and it's true, we're really family now and the overwhelming response to Acorns Day demonstrates the depth of feeling this relationship evokes in everybody at the Club. Acorns Day is our day to extend our thanks and respect for the incredible work that Acorns delivers to those in pain and in need."
Villa manager Paul Lambert added: "It's an absolute privilege to be associated with a charity such as Acorns and to be able to contribute in a real and meaningful way. The amount raised is staggering.
"The team has been to the three hospices in the vicinity - Selly Oak, Walsall and Worcester - throughout the season we've been able to go there and see the kids and terrific people helping the best they can to keep the hospice going, what you call proper people and proper jobs.
"Aston Villa does great work in the community. You've got to help people that need it a bit more than yourself.
"To raise an amount of money which will run an Acorns hospice for virtually an entire month is a great achievement. Nothing reflects better that sense of common purpose, that unity within the whole of this football club than the way in which we come together for causes such as Acorns.
"It's a reflection on the entire club and it's something in which we all take tremendous pride."
Gabby Agbonlahor, Villa's Acorns ambassador, said: "A big thanks to everybody who contributed, it's just a phenomenal response.
"When you visit the Acorns hospices you see the work that the staff do, the nurses and the volunteers that come in and help. It's a great credit to them the way they help the kids, look after them and keep them occupied and even let them have a little bit of fun during the day, so it's credit to Acorns.
"As footballers, we're fortunate and there are things we can do off the field to help other people. As a club, it's part of our ethos and we genuinely seek to do some good in the community. Whether that's raising money or going on the visits, that's all a big thing to me.
"For us, as players, to have responsibilities within our community is good and it shows us that there's more to life than football. If we can show our support in terms of donating money and going on visits, it's good to be able to help people. For everybody to have contributed - fans, players, staff, the whole Club - it's a great thing."
David Strudley said: "It's almost beyond any imagining. When you think that the fans have got behind this, the players, the staff, the whole community - it's incredible. Any time I've met anyone associated with Aston Villa since Christmas, they've all been talking about Acorns Day and they've really been behind it with unbelievable enthusiasm.
"I don't think anyone could have imagined the kind of response this effort has provoked among so many people connected to Aston Villa. For the Club to have matched the amount raised is just fantastic. In terms of our strategy going forward, this gives us the security to say, 'Go for it.'
"Ever since we started this relationship several years ago, it's just grown as a family undertaking. It's no longer two organisations coming together, it has become the Villa-Acorns family."