Ripon's overwhelming support for an orphanage in Kenya

The founder of Ripon City Netball Club, Helen Mackenzie, with supporters and donations made to the appeal.
The founder of Ripon City Netball Club, Helen Mackenzie, with supporters and donations made to the appeal.

A former Ripon City Netball player who says the club changed her life, has launched a campaign to bring the joy of the sport to an orphanage in Kenya.

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Kirsty Butlin’s appeal all started with a single Facebook post, where she poured her heart into inviting Ripon residents to donate any spare bibs and kit that they may have.

But the response from the Ripon community was so overwhelming that Kirsty, who now lives in Kenya with her army husband, will be able to give the children a much wider range of life-changing gifts - from essential basics such as shoes and sanitary products, to netballs and other toys and games. And this Making a Difference in Kenya campaign has been proudly facilitated by Ripon City Netball Club - the club that showed Kirsty just how much sport can change someone’s life.

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Kirsty said: “Two years ago, I saw a post on the Blow Your Horn Ripon Facebook forum advertising netball, and I really loved netball as a kid and thought I would give it a go.

“Now this was massive to me as my mental health had been a real struggle for some time, and I hadn’t actually left the house other than for the school drop-off for a while due to my mental health.

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“I plucked the courage up to go to a training session one Wednesday evening. So at the age of 31 I even dragged my mum along for moral support as my anxiety was through the roof.

“Well after that first training session, I knew how special Ripon City really are. They helped me grow as a person and gave me a sense of belonging that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I may be the other side of the world, but again the support they show me and for this cause, I can’t even describe how proud and amazed I am that they are my extended family, and I think they will be for life. I want to start a little netball club for the local orphanage in Kenya and give them some girl power like Ripon City Netball Club have.”

The founder of Ripon City Netball Club, Helen Mackenzie, said: “The support and generosity shown by Ripon for this appeal has been amazing. It’s all about team work - together everyone achieves more.” Call Helen on 07896 534539 to find out more about donating to the appeal.