Formed in 2007 with the aim of raising £1,000 for Erskine’s Veterans, the Rangers Supporters Erskine Appeal have now raised a phenomenal £856,000 for the charity.
Paisley born Tom Clark had the initial idea to try and raise £1k amongst fellow Rangers Football Club supporters for the Scottish ex-service charity. He hoped the money could be spent on a special treat for the Veterans.
By selling badges and organising a sponsored walk, the original target was very quickly realised resulting in 12 Veterans enjoying an afternoon at Ibrox with hospitality as Rangers took on Hibs.
After one year of fundraising, RSEA raised £34,000! Due to the immediate success with Rangers supporters wholeheartedly embracing the idea of fundraising for the Veterans’ charity, Tom was encouraged to continue with the venture. Rangers legend Harold Davis was asked to become Patron and with his constant support, until his sad passing last year, the organisation has spent 12 incredible years raising money for the Veterans living in Erskine’s four care homes.
Tom is Secretary of RSEA and was joined in 2010 by Murray Roxburgh who deals with PR and organising events. There is also now a group in the North, Rangers Supporters Erskine Appeal North East (RSEANE), run by Ian Nicol and Wilf Marshall. Iain Macinnes of Partick Bowling Club also runs a very successful annual Bowls tournament each year and members of the Railway Industry known as the ‘Railway Bears’ hold an annual fundraising function.
Over the years money has been raised through can collections; sponsored walks; zip slides; abseils; football tournaments; golf days, Northern Soul nights and Sportsman Dinners which take place in Glasgow and Aberdeen. RSEA have a merchandise range with items including scarves, polo-shirts and mugs. The RSEA pin badge is a collectable item with a new badge being brought out every year. 2,000 of the badges were sold in 2007, this year over 10,000 were snapped up.
RSEA have also benefitted from online sales of the Roy Orbison classic ‘Penny Arcade’ after 60s songwriter Sammy King gave them permission to raise funds from the song. Sammy is now Patron of RSEA. Every Christmas the Rangers fans always remember Erskine’s residents by filling hundreds of shoeboxes with presents which are delivered to the charity’s four homes.
Speaking about RSEA’s success Tom said: “We are extremely delighted with the monies raised and I am so proud to be part of the Rangers family who have made this happen. We have now reached a point where we can genuinely set a realistic target of raising £1million.
My personal highlight was when we organised Harold Davis to come to the Erskine Park Home to open a Sensory Room for the residents. Unbeknown to Harold the room was being named after him. He muttered a few words to me under his breath which I cannot repeat, but I know he was deeply honoured at the gesture. To have the support of Harold and his wife Vi over the years was wonderful and we miss him deeply.
It is really important that we thank every single person who has helped our project over the years from buying a badge at £3 to sponsoring an event. Every penny has been valued, appreciated and put to good use. For the Rangers support to have raised £856,000 for the amazing organisation of Erskine is such a fantastic achievement.”
Sara Bannerman, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Erskine said: “We are incredibly grateful to RSEA for their amazing support over the last 12 years. Their efforts have not only raised substantial funds for our Veterans but have also helped raise our profile in Scotland and reminded people how important it is to remember the debt we owe, and the deep respect we have, to our Veterans for their service. RSEA work closely with us and step in to assist with specific projects which benefit our Veterans, with the most recent being the purchase of a Omi Vista Interactive Table for residents living with dementia. There is so much we would not have been able to achieve without their support.”