Paul Popham Volunteer fundraiser gets help from Swansea City FC

One of our volunteers has reached out to players at his favourite football team, Swansea City FC, to help him raise money for our charity during the down-turn in fundraising opportunities which have come about as a result of COVID-19.

Paul Smith, from Gowerton, is a lifelong Swans fan and a keen runner with the Paul Popham Running Club (PPRC). Many of the club’s runners regularly take part in 10k’s, half marathons, marathons and triathlons – raising much-needed money for our charity in the process.

When the coronavirus lockdown first struck, Paul realised that many of the events which the club relies on to raise sponsorship would be cancelled or postponed, so decided to try alternative fundraising ideas.

So far, he has raised almost £400 by selling, auctioning and raffling off a variety of Swans kit – collected and donated by Connor Roberts – originally belonging to players including Jake Bidwell, Freddie Woodman, Nathan Dyer, André Ayew, Jay Fulton, Bersant Celina, Rhian Brewster and Matt Grimes – some of which were signed by the players.

Paul still has one shirt left to sell and hopes to raise yet more funds by selling it to the highest bidder on his Facebook marketplace page. He hopes that the sale of this piece of Swans memorabilia will take his overall total to well over his initial £500 aim. The shirt is from the playoff game against Brentford and features the NHS rainbow on the front, the playoff badges on the arm and, best of all, Connor Roberts has signed it.

Paul Smith, volunteer fundraiser at the Paul Popham Fund, said:

“I first made contact when I put a shout out on twitter to various past and present Swans players, looking for a pair of match-worn shorts for me to wear for the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2019. Connor Roberts replied, and we’ve stayed in touch since.

“With so many races cancelled this year due to the pandemic, I realised that the Paul Popham fund would have been very badly hit financially. The club was looking for alternative ways to raise funds and I wanted to help. I put a cheeky request in to Connor to see if he would help us out with some Swans kit and he got together a range of match-worn kit of his own, and a range of other players. I’ve sold it via Facebook and my own network of friends through raffles and direct sales.”

The country’s charity sector is reliant on volunteers, like Paul, to raise funds and help people when they are at their most vulnerable. The coronavirus pandemic has made this more difficult and more important than ever. A recent survey of 550 charities by the Institute of Fundraising states that 48% of charities risk losing a third of their income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, due to the loss of direct debit donations and fundraising event cancellations.

Swans player, Connor Roberts, said:

“The COVID outbreak has affected everyone’s lives, and after hearing of the challenges faced by the Paul Popham Fund with regard to fundraising through this pandemic, I really wanted to help out.

“The fund does so much good work and raises vital money, and I hope the money raised already from the signed Swans shirts is helping supply vital support to people with kidney disease and their families. Hopefully, my signed shirt from the play-off match against Brentford will take Paul over his original target.

“I’m a local boy and have been part of the Swans for most of my life, and one thing that really shines through at the club is just how important the community is to the club, and vice versa. So, I was really keen to do whatever was possible to help.”

Jo Popham, our CEO, said:

“We’re very grateful to Paul for his ingenuity and hard work raising funds for our charity, as well as to the players at Swansea City FC, particularly Connor, who so kindly donated their kit for us to sell. 2020 has been a challenging year for all charities, but the determination of volunteer fundraisers like Paul has meant that we’ve been able to continue to supply vital support to people with kidney disease and their families.”

Here at the Paul Popham Fund, we’d like to thank Harry Weir, an inspirational 8-year boy who has virtually walked up Pen Y Fan, on his birthday, to raise funds for kidney care and celebrate being 18 months post-transplant.

He had set himself a fundraising target of £500, but, so far, has managed to raise an amazing £1230.00!

Harry was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at 3 years old. Unfortunately, there is no cure and with only 3 types of medication to treat the disease, and one round of chemotherapy, sadly, Harry’s kidneys failed when he was 5.

Harry then started PD dialysis at home, 10 hours every night for almost 2 years. Harry suffered many side effects from kidney failure and dialysis such as high blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, itching, cramps, lack of appetite, and seizures. Harry was on the waiting list for a deceased donor for a year, while a live donor was investigated, but unfortunately, the call did not come. However, in March 2019, a match was found via the living kidney sharing scheme – Harry’s dad donated one of his for Harry to receive. We are pleased to say that both are doing very well since transplant. Harry’s quality of life has significantly improved and is now enjoying the things that all children do.

So, as you can see, Harry has climbed many mountains already in his young life.

Harry’s mum, Karen, explains:

“The plan this year was to ask Harry’s family and friends to join him in walking a mountain – Pen Y Fan. However, as Covid-19 has got in the way, we thought it would be great to still celebrate Harry’s birthday and transplant, virtually.

“Harry has been a patient at the Children’s Kidney Centre at UHW Cardiff since he was 2 years old. The team are amazing, and we are so fortunate to have the NHS. We will always be grateful and thankful for all that they do. However, the Centre is part of the old hospital building and is in need of refurbishment. The only way to test kidney function is by a blood test, and so children have no option but to go to the hospital regularly. For some, this can be traumatic, especially for families. New surroundings and updated resources would really help the experience.”

The Paul Popham Fund is leading a project to update resources and improve the surroundings, to further support families at the centre. Their refurbishment campaign has a goal to raise £132,000, with £4,000 already raised.

Please get in touch to help us raise funds at

To read more about Harry’s amazing fundraising feat, and donate, go to:

The Paul Popham Fund Counselling Service provides support to patients with kidney disease and their families.

Due to COVID-19, our Counselling Service is currently being provided remotely, via the telephone or zoom. However, face-to-face support within our service area will resume when appropriate.

We are currently looking for volunteer counsellors to join our expanding team.

Counselling volunteers must be either qualified counsellors or counsellors in training.

Applicants should have passed their Fitness to Practice and be either about to start their final year of degree or diploma, or be working towards their 100 hours placement or accreditation hours.

Applicants must also have BACP membership, or membership with another counselling regulatory body.

Lived experience of kidney disease, or experience of supporting in a chronic illness setting is desirable, however full training will be provided.

Supervision is provided, as well as various CPD opportunities.

For more information or to apply, please contact Hayleigh Isaac by emailing