The Countess of Wessex joined in a special video call on Thursday, marking the 20th anniversary of the Foundation of Light charitable organisation.
The Foundation of Light, founded by the former chairman of Sunderland AFC, is one of the largest football charities in the United Kingdom and provides millions of dollars back to Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.
According to a press release on the Foundation’s website, the money helps in the “delivery of over 40 sport, employability, health and wellbeing and education programmes, tackling some of the regions’ biggest societal challenges such as obesity, poor mental health, unemployment and anti-social behaviour.”
Sophie joined a video call to begin a year of celebrations, chatting with Sir Bob Murray CBE, the founder and now Chair of Trustees; Lesley Spuhler, Chief Executive’ and Keira Ramshaw, Sunderland AFC Ladies captain.
The Countess told those on the call: “On behalf of all the people who come through the doors of the Foundation of Light, thank you so much for everything that you’re doing. I know that it’s not easy at the moment, but I’m sure there will be some positive takeaways that you can utilise in the future.
“The Foundation is always flexible to the needs of the community and that is what makes it incredibly special, and already you are picking up on issues that are current and right now. I know the Foundation will always be there for the community and for those needs.”
Sophie added: “I couldn’t be more proud to be patron.
“I’ve been really lucky to see the whole thing changing and developing and just becoming more engaging with everybody and fulfilling so many people’s dreams. And to have been able to launch Beacon was a real highlight for me and I know it was the combination of so many dreams and so much efforts from so many people.
“It has been a wonderful journey – and I’m certainly not stopping now!”
“I’ve still got a lot of work to do, it’s forever changing and I think that’s what so clever about the foundation, it has always adapted to the needs of the people, that who it is there for, and those are the lives that it changes and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Countess of Wessex also spoke with youngster Josie Dobson, a member of the Foundation’s Regional Talent Club, about her schoolwork and how she sometimes has to wait for help with homework because both of her parents work.
Sophie told Josie, “It must be very frustrating for you, I really empathise with you, it’s not easy but you are not alone.”
Also joining the call were two tutors with the Foundation of Light Skills Tutors and a participant in the EFL Trust’s Tackling Loneliness Together programme.
This year, to mark their anniversary, the Foundation aims to raise £50,000 in support of employability and mental health projects.