The donation of tables and display stands to a famous old football club has helped to kit out a shelter in memory of a much-loved supporter.
The items, given to Bishop Auckland AFC by developer Linden Homes, enabled ‘Chef’s Shelter’ – named after Darren ‘Chef’ Cooke, who tragically passed away last year after a short, non-covid related illness – to provide table service drinks to socially distanced guests outside.
At a time when no football can be played, this has helped the club to bring in some much needed funds – as well as offering supporters a chance to meet safely.
Darren, from Bishop Auckland, who was 59, was a partner in a local construction firm and had supported ‘The Two Blues’ all his life.
A fundraiser was set up in the hope of buying something for the football club in Darren’s memory and after smashing the initial target of £300 – eventually collecting over £4,000 – the idea to buy and convert a shipping container into ‘Chef’s Shelter’ was born.
Club Chairman, Steve Coulthard, said: “The plan is that the shelter will provide a covered viewing area for supporters once we get back to playing football – something we have been unable to do for nine months due to the pandemic. It seems like a fitting tribute to Chef, who was a great supporter and sponsor of the club. He will be greatly missed by all of us and I think the amount raised in his memory, shows what a highly regarded man he was.”
“It has been an extremely difficult time for clubs across the football pyramid with most – especially at amateur level – seeing revenue streams severely affected. The donation of the tables, chairs and stands has been a godsend for us as it has allowed us to provide an outdoor table service to supporters from Chef’s Shelter, bringing in some much-needed funds.”
Linden Homes is building at Bishops Park, just off Douglas Crescent in the town, where a second phase of new properties is now proposed. It was Sales Executive Elliot Connah, Darren’s godson, who alerted his colleagues and suggested that some old stands and tables from the site would be perfect for the shelter.
Elliot said: “We had these items that were no longer required and it occurred to me how useful they could be to the football club. We also plan to donate some further items from our development in Birtley”
“I’m thrilled that this small donation has helped to furnish Chef’s Shelter, has supported the club through a difficult time and will be part of a place where local people will hopefully soon be able to gather and watch the football – as Chef liked to do.”
*Picture caption: Bishop Auckland AFC Chairman Steve Coulthard (left) alongside Linden Homes Sales Executive Elliot Connah.