Bolton Lads and Girls Club is celebrating 20 years of funding from electronics retailer AO.

In the past two decades, the retailer has provided the club with more than £1 million of support – and it’s now pledging to step up its fundraising activities.

More than 67,000 young people have been welcomed through the doors of Bolton Lads and Girls’ Hacken Lane facility, named the ‘AO Sports Club’.

The facility was completely renovated in 2015 with a full-size 3G football pitch and floodlights.

Founded in 1889, the club had fewer than 15 teams when AO started supporting the programme in 2004.

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Since then, the number of teams has doubled, and more than 4,000 kids have been given the opportunity to get in to organised grassroots football.

AO Founder and CEO John Roberts said: “Everyone at AO is incredibly proud of our 20-year partnership with BLGC.

“We've seen first-hand the difference that the incredible facilities, combined with the skilled youth workers, make to the lives of young people.

“In other towns, over 1,000 youth clubs have closed up and down the country over the last 14 years, as local councils are forced to make devastating cuts to youth services, but BLGC is a shining example of what can be done when local authorities, central government, business and philanthropy work in partnership to invest in young people’s futures.”

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To mark the 20th anniversary, AO has pledged to carry out more fundraising activities for BLGC than ever before in 2024, including a huge ‘back-to-school donation drive’ in the summer, collecting school essentials such as uniform, stationery and textbooks.

Emma Hutchinson, CEO at Bolton Lads and Girls Club, said: “BLGC are very fortunate to be supported by a number of extremely generous Bolton businesses, without whom we simply could not provide the services and opportunities that we do, or support local children and young people to be the best they can be.

The Bolton News: Chief executive Emma Hutchinson (left) and deputy chief executive Sarah Randall (right)Chief executive Emma Hutchinson (left) and deputy chief executive Sarah Randall (right) (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

“We are extremely grateful to AO for all the support we have received over the last 20 years, both financially and otherwise, they have helped to improve the opportunities available to countless young people.

“Thank you on behalf of everyone at BLGC for the difference you have made.”

Steve Stringer, football development manager at BLGC, added: “As our long-term relationship with AO continues, I just want to say a massive thanks for the past 20 years and their support has established AO Sports Club as one of the best facilities of its kind in the Northwest.

“As a club, we offer football to as many players as we can of all abilities, and it can’t be taken for granted how much AO’s support helps towards keeping as many young people playing football as possible.”

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