Hibs star Marvin Bartley has enlisted some heavyweight support to help his fundraising for the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
World boxing champion Anthony Joshua is one of many sportsmen who are backing Bartley’s campaign having donated signed gloves which, along with other memorabilia, will be raffled in the coming weeks.
On-loan Hibee Brandon Barker has given Bartley a signed Manchester City strip while the midfielder has also got the support of fellow footballers Harry Arter, Charlie Austin, Kevin Long and Sam Vokes along with former champion jockey AP McCoy.
The first item up for grabs is team-mate Martin Boyle’s shirt – signed by the full Hibs first-team squad – which he wore during Lewis Stevenson’s testimonial match against Sunderland with supporters who donate a minimum of £5 on Bartley’s JustGiving page by Sunday night being entered into the draw.
Bartley has set a modest target of £1000 and is already more than halfway to his goal, the 31-year-old intending to use the money to give children affected by the blaze, which claimed around 80 lives and left hundreds homeless, a brighter Christmas.
Revealing that through a friend he knew someone who had been caught up in the tragedy, he said: “I watched it on the news and a guy came on who had lost his house and one of his children and it just made me think it could have been anyone of us in that position.
“You go to sleep thinking everything is okay and you wake up in the morning and your house has gone and you have lost a family member. It’s a very difficult situation they are in.
“I like to do stuff for charity anyway, so I thought if I could help in any way I would. A lot of my friends in sport have helped me by signing stuff.”
Rallying support from the world of football was an obvious move but Bartley, a boxing fan himself, disclosed Joshua was only too happy to lend a helping hand, saying: “I know someone at Matchroom and I have met Anthony a couple of times and been to watch him train. I’ve stayed in contact and he has signed a few pairs of gloves for me.”
Bartley is using the power of social media to spread the word and insisted that even without being in the position he is as a football player to gain support, he’d have tried to have played his part in helping those affected.
He said: “Even people as far away as up here have been moved by it because it could happen to anyone. You think you’re in a safe building and then something like that happens. It beggars belief.
“I hope none of us are ever in the situation those people are in at this moment. People’s lives there will never be the same. People are still struggling now.
“So whatever I can raise will probably be for children. I’ll try to go down as close to Christmas as possible. It’s a time of year when people should be happy and this will be the first Christmas since it happened.
“It makes me appreciate what I do have and the position I am in where I can help and draw on other people to help me.
“I think it’d be pretty selfish if I didn’t try and put something together to help the people affected by it. If I wasn’t a footballer and I was doing something else I would still try to help. I’ve had friends who have been in bad situations, so it can be tough. I can’t spread my wages to help every single person, but if I can do other things to help people then I’m always open to that.”
• Martin Boyle’s shirt from Lewis Stevenson’s testimonial is the first shirt up for grabs in Bartley’s raffle. Donate a minimum of £5 by Sunday night to be entered into the draw. Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/marvin-bartley-grenfell-tower.