The name Martin Bromwich may not mean much to some but to followers of non-league football they will know the name as the tough tackling Soham Town Rangers star.
But unbeknown to many, with the exception of his close friends and family, the 35 year old, who has made over 400 appearances for the Greens has a quietly kept charitable side to him.
For the next few Rangers matches Bromwich’s name will be missing from manager Steve Fallon’s team sheet, not through injury, suspension or family commitments, but for helping disadvantaged children, together with his wife Jo, in The Gambia, Africa, something which started following a trip to the West African nation last October.
“We decided to go to The Gambia last October for a bit of winter sun and we thought it would be interesting to visit a local school or community while we were out there,” said Martin.
“After my wife Jo did a bit of research she got in touch with a lady called Sandy Sanyang who is one of the trustees for Goal For The Gambia, a charity which aims to financially support education programmes for young people.
“She offered us the opportunity to visit the Kitty Madras School which was one of their projects where the plan was to repair the roof of a classroom, install new window shutters, build a new block of four class rooms and a toilet block.”
Touched by the story of the Kitty Madras School Martin and Jo set out to The Gambia with two suitcases full of stationery, sports equipment, clothes and toys all donated to them by friends, family and work colleagues, to give to pupils at the school.
“The whole community turned out to greet us with an amazing array of music and dancing which took us completely by surprise,” said Martin.
“It was amazing to see both adults and children get so excited over what we would class as simple things.”
Humbled by their first trip the couple, who have been married for four years, decided they wanted to take their charitable efforts one step further, so much so that they decided to set up a fundraising page to help build the school a new toilet block.
“We asked friends and family not to get us Christmas presents last year but to instead donate to our fundraising page,” said Bromwich.
“The target we set ourselves was £800 which was enough to buy the toilet block, but the response from our friends and family was so unbelievable that we raised almost double that amount.
“With the rest of the money we handed it over to the charity to help fund the construction of a new classroom. Coincidentally the toilet block is painted in green and white.”
On Friday the couple jetted back out to The Gambia to visit the completed building works, along with lending more support to youngsters to give them a break from their normal lives.
“This time round we will be revisiting the Kitty Madras School to witness first hand the difference that our fundraising has made, but we also be involved in giving local children the chance to have days out at the beach,” said Martin.
“The majority of the children have never been to the beach before or in the sea. We have heard other stories that these trips are a fantastic experience for everyone involved.
While their work with those connected with the Kitty Madras School is almost complete the couple plan to continue supporting the work of the charity to help try and expose children in the country to a better quality of life.
“Once one project is felt to be complete the charity moves on to another, although Sandy does go back to visit them from time to time to see how they are getting on,” said Martin.
“We plan to meet with some of the other trustees of the charity to help out with any of the other ongoing projects, along with finding out even more about what we can do to help the children of the Gambia as it is something we want continue to do for years to come.”
To donate to Martin and Jo’s appeal search for Jo Bromwich at www.virginmoneygiving.com