Football fans can travel miles to watch their beloved team play. But for super-volunteer Mark Vosper, it's our EFL Match Days that he follows around the country most weekends, cumulatively journeying half-way round the globe to help raise funds and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK. We find out why he does it.
Travel 12,478 miles from London and you could reach New Zealand, almost half way around the world. Yet the closest Mark Vosper has got to Kiwi territory is the south coast of England.
That's because the 52-year-old Spurs fan covered that distance by going to 64 football matches over the last three seasons instead, as one of our army of Match Day volunteers across the country. Thanks to our official partnership with the EFL (the English Football League), our volunteers can be seen with their black donation buckets at the majority of EFL grounds, as well as Wembley finals, raising funds and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK.
"When I started, I thought it would be a great way to mix my love of football and my desire to raise money for a charity that’s close to home," says Mark, whose father was diagnosed with prostate cancer ten years ago.
"When he was diagnosed, none of us were clued up about it and my brother and I weren’t aware that we were at a greater risk due to the hereditary link. So that’s why I wanted to do something to spread the word and raise money. Thankfully my dad is OK but it could’ve been a different story, like it is for so many other men."
Not only are the other volunteers great, but the fans at each collection are also really supportive
Mark’s first match day collection was at Bolton Wanderers. And over the last three seasons, he’s gone on to collect at just about every football league ground in England and Wales thanks to the free rail travel from his former employer, Network Rail. He sees it as a great way to visit new places and has been overwhelmed by the support from football fans at clubs from all over the country.
"Not only are the other volunteers great, but the fans at each collection are also really supportive," says Mark. "I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of fans who’ve been more than willing to donate – many of whom because they’ve been directly affected by prostate cancer."
And it's a rewarding experience for the volunteer as well as the charity. "As well as getting a free ticket to the match and seeing some exciting games, it’s also nice to spend time with like-minded people who are all there to raise money for a great cause," says Mark.
"So for anyone who’s considering signing up for a match, come along and give it a try! You’ll be welcomed by the leader and other volunteers and it’s a great day out. I’ve already signed up for this season’s matches and can’t wait for them to get started. Hopefully we’ll raise even more than last year!"
We are recognising Mark’s fantastic contribution at Wembley. He will join the EFL’s presentation party to meet both teams on the pitch before kick-off at the Checkatrade Trophy final. But, on this particular ground visit, he won’t be carrying a bucket.