Charity king cannot stop collecting

EVO-STIK League Marine's long-serving community officer Barry Lenton is showing no signs of relinquishing his title as the king of football's charity collectors.

The lifelong Mariners fan - crowned Williams Hill Fan of the Year by The Non-League Paper for his efforts - is looking forward to setting new records after handing over 16,000 items of unwanted kit to charity KitAid since 2012 for distribution to poor and disadvantaged youngsters around the world.

The 66-year-old's official total this week for the EVO-STIK League's former charity partner stood at 16,150, including 1,625 items on behalf of the Mariners alone since the start of the year. His closest rivals are up at Airdrie United and the retired teacher is planning to keep the pressure on his Scottish rivals by breaking through the 17,000 mark in 2018 and the 20,000 barrier by 2020.

Pictured collecting his award at the National Game Awards at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge in 2012, his efforts later led to his EVO-STIK League Premier Division club being named as one of the charity's handful of ambassador clubs.

Vowing to keep going, he said: "My aim is to have collected 20,000 items of kit by 2020. Despite Marine's close association with KitAid, we are, of course, collecting for the EVO-STIK's current charity partners Sports Traider and I recently met up with them at The Marine Travel Arena to hand over a full box of kit from our supporters.

"I began collecting in January 2012 on behalf of Marine and would sort and count the kit because I believed I would only be collecting for a season or two but I kept receiving calls from people wanting to donate and a spreadsheet I'd started became more and more expansive. In all, 3,491 items of kit have been handed in by Marine supporters.

"Most of the rest has been from listeners of Radio Merseyside and local schools. 24 schools on Merseyside have helped and 48 organisations - schools, businesses, churches and local teams - have contributed. 6826 shirts from over 150 clubs around the world have been handed in and 1015 pairs of football boots. The rest is mainly made up of shorts, socks and tracksuits."

The veteran, who regularly enlists the help of local courier company Swift Despatch to deliver donations when his garage is over-flowing, is not short on motivation or a history of supporting the Northern Premier League's official charities.

He added: "Before KitAid, I collected 1,300 pairs of boots for the league's previous partners, Boots For Africa. I'm retired now so have the time to do this and it keeps me occupied when I'm not painting walls and toilets at Marine!"

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