On their arrival, the group were greeted by assistant first team coach Gianfranco Zola and enjoyed lunch before beginning their tour of the facilities, during which time the positive work being carried out by the Chelsea Foundation in the local community was highlighted.
As the tour came to an end the Mayor of Elmbridge Councillor Shweta Kapadia spoke about the world class facilities at Cobham and the relationship between the club and local community.
‘We are ever so grateful to Chelsea for hosting all the mayors of Surrey. We’ve been shown around the facilities and they are probably some of the best in the world,’ said the Mayor. ‘We’ve seen the indoor training facilities, the Academy and the gym as well, it’s been excellent.
‘The work that Chelsea do in the community is very important and I have to say as a borough we are ever so pleased to have Chelsea within Eldridge. We work as a partnership – we have worked with Chelsea and Chelsea have worked with us - and the end result is something that we can all be proud of. In terms of the work Chelsea do within the borough, we are again very grateful.
‘We have youth clubs involved in the Chelsea programmes and I think that’s very important, and we also recognise that it isn’t just in Elmbridge that Chelsea work, they also work with other youth clubs throughout Surrey.’
Dave Hadley and Joe McKenzie are part of the Stamford Bridge Activate Seniors programme and joined staff from our global charity partner, Plan International, as guests of the Foundation for the game against Manchester City at Wembley.
Sitting in the Royal Box, the duo, who have supported Chelsea for a combined 142 years, enjoyed first-class hospitality as well as prime seats for the traditional curtain raiser to the new season. But while the experience proved one never to forget, the duo believe the work done by Foundation staff to support the older generation on a weekly basis is more important than the trip to Wembley.
Dave Hadley, 84, said: ‘We used to come here and work with computers but now it is more social and we get the chance to meet up, talk football and have quizzes. It is important as it keeps our brains ticking over.
‘It is good fun and I have been coming for eight years. If you live alone like I do, coming here and chatting is so important. I still go to games, but others can’t and this lets us get together and talk football like the old days.
‘The trip to Wembley was wonderful. I have been so many times but to sit in those seats, have a lovely meal, it was an occasion not to be forgotten.’
The Activate Seniors programme, originally known as the ‘Silver Surfers’, aims to develop and enhance the experiences of older people, focusing on key areas such as reducing social isolation and loneliness, improving health and wellbeing and bridging the generation gap through inter-generational schemes.
The Chelsea Foundation now run a variety of groups across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth, built on the existing senior groups at both Stamford Bridge and our Cobham training ground.
Joe McKenzie, who worked at the club prior to retirement as a concierge and then in the post room, added: ‘I have been a Chelsea fan for 68 years, and am 72 now so I have been associated with the club for a long time and it is great that I can continue being part of the club.
‘I enjoy the group and while it sounds simple it is just important we get out of the house. We would welcome more and more people to take part and we want it to continue.
‘I used to know Jimmy Greaves and he got me tickets in the past but Wembley was out of this world. I have been to many matches but this was something else. From the food to walking out and sitting on the centre circle – we were treated like princes!’
If you or a family member are interested in the Activate Seniors programme please contact James.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Community Day was arranged via the Chelsea Foundation, with the young fans and their families watching the team train before meeting the players afterwards for pictures and autographs.
Eden Hazard and David Luiz were as ever among the players the fans were most excited to meet with six-year-old Tia Foster Price saving her finest dance moves for the Belgian international!
‘I’ve had a good day,’ she said. ‘I like all the players so it was good to meet them all.’ Her mum, Annemarie, added: ‘She’s had a good day and has been so excited! The whole family are big Chelsea fans so it has been great to be here.’
Stacey Nugent enjoyed the trip to Cobham as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Father’s Day treat organised with The Lorraine Show on ITV.
Stacey, who was joined by wife Melissa and daughter Charlotte, also had the added bonus of meeting our new assistant Gianfranco Zola.
He said: ‘I had the surprise a while back of being carted off to London to go on the Lorraine Show for a makeover and Father’s Day treat. It then ended with a Chelsea shirt with number one dad on the back and the news I would be coming here.
‘I’ve enjoyed the day so much. I got to meet all the players as well as Zola. Eden was also great and signed the number one dad shirt on the back for me.’
Our Community Day happens regularly over the course of the season and when the Chelsea Foundation links up with a range of charities and individuals to arrange visits for seriously or terminally ill supporters and their carers, giving them a well-deserved boost in what is obviously a difficult time for them and their families.
Also in attendance, and guests of the Chelsea Foundation, were Alfie Cree, seven, eight-year-old Harvey Upfold and Sam Rice, 17.