Social media boosts Down's Syndrome fundraising football event

Back of the net: Archie Cunningham, four, enjoys the football fun with family friend Gerard Bell

Back of the net: Archie Cunningham, four, enjoys the football fun with family friend Gerard Bell Buy this photo

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

SOCIAL media helped make this year’s Down’s Syndrome Oxford football tournament the most successful ever.

Organiser Niki Archer trebled the number of teams from seven to 21 and raised more than £1,000, thanks to her use of Facebook.

The 31-year-old from Wootton, whose four-year-old Archie has Down’s, said she was amazed by how successful Sunday’s tournament at Milton United’s ground near Didcot was. She said: “It was a lot of work and very tiring towards the end, but when I came home and turned on my phone, I found so many messages of thanks saying it was a wonderful day.

“The amount of money and awareness we’ve raised for a small charity is brilliant.”

The former beautician used Spotted Abingdon and Spotted Didcot Facebook pages to raise interest and recruit new teams.

Among those were the Ab Dads – six dads from Abingdon who took part.

Rob McQueen, 43, said: “We played five and lost five, but it was a great day and we had a lot of fun.”

Each team paid £30 to enter, and a raffle, face painting and a bouncy castle raised more money on the day which the organisers are still counting up.

Ms Archer became involved with Down’s Syndrome Oxford in 2009 when Archie was born.

The Oxford Times:

Fab day: Abingdon team the ‘Ab Dads’, from left, Mo Morris, Rob McQueen, David Matthewson, Andy Groom, Andy Malin, and Benny Sutton

She said: “I was 26 when I had Archie, and I thought I was the only person my age to have a child with Down’s. I knew nothing about it, but meeting with all the parents was amazing. I realised I wasn’t on my own, and seeing all the other children with Down’s I realised Archie wouldn’t have to just sit indoors all the time. He is just a normal boy who happens to have Down’s Syndrome.”

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Down’s Syndrome Oxford (DSO) is a parent-led organisation which provides support and meet-ups. Since March it has been running training classes for parents and teachers at schools.

Secretary Marion Simon said: “All the fundraising people do for us is really important.

“Niki did an awful lot of marketing, as did Milton United. It was really big this year.”

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