By Dan Tester
Brighton & Hove Albion's charitable arm's award-winning work was celebrated in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon at a packed reception hosted by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas.
The event brought people together to celebrate Albion in the Communities (AITC) various partnerships including representatives from health, sport, inclusion and education organisations. Over 50 AITC staff were also joined by friends of the club, American Express employees, Albion representatives Ken Brown and Martin Perry, local dignitaries and business leaders.
Lord Mawhinney from The Football League Trust and Dave Palmer, of The Professional Footballers' Association, were also in attendance alongside local education representatives from the University of Brighton, Dorothy Stringer and Ratton School in Eastbourne.
American Express senior vice president Michael Edwards addressed the 150+ gathering with a speech focusing on the blossoming relationship between the football club, AITC and Amex and the exciting future ahead.
Albion Life President and AITC chairman Dick Knight presented a history of the scheme and its importance to the people of Sussex - highlighting the innovative Want to Work initiative - and much further afield, while Caroline Lucas presented an overview of the breadth of AITC's reach and the crucial role it plays in its community.
The Brighton Pavilion MP Lucas said: "I am immensely honoured to host a reception for Albion in the Community at the House of Commons. It's been a fantastic event with an excellent turn-out of guests and there's a real sense of shared excitement of what AITC can achieve. The fantastic work being done by AITC across Brighton and Hove shows that football can be a tremendous force for good.
"The opening of the Albion's new American Express Community Stadium was a source of great excitement in the city - and it's clear that a lot of effort has gone into building good relationships in the community.
"Today's reception was an excellent opportunity for the charity to talk to MPs, business leaders and other guests about its success with initiatives such as the disability programme and adult education schemes."
"It really was a special occasion," said AITC's joint managing director Steve Ford. "It was great, particularly, for so many of our staff to celebrate and showcase our work in such a magnificent setting. To see all our partners there too was the icing on the cake. I am immensely proud of my involvement with AITC - long may it continue."
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