On Tuesday 14th March the JRF team welcomed a host of guests at Wembley Stadium for the official unveiling of their Inspire to Achieve Heritage Exhibition.

The special event marked the end of the year-long Inspire to Achieve project that culminated in the impressive Heritage Exhibition shown at the iconic Wembley Stadium. The display which features 15 panels over 6 feet in height with illustrations of former professional footballers including Eartha Pond, Jerome Thomas, Ricky Hill, Paul Merson, Dave Beasant and the late Cyrille Regis, celebrates the rich sporting heritage that has gone before.

Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players, the Inspire to Achieve Heritage Project uncovered the Histories of the Footballers who Paved the Way in the borough of Brent, and the afternoon’s celebratory event reflected on the impact of the programme.

Special guests included the Deputy Mayor of Brent, Cllr Orleen Hylton, Alex White from the Heritage Fund, the families of Luther Blissett and Jason Roberts, as well as some of the former professional footballers who have been the focus of this project including, Dave Regis, Rachel Yankey, Richard Langley, Mark and Brian Stein, and Jamal Campbell-Ryce.

Students from Lyon Park School who enjoyed visits from former pupils Gary Waddock and Jason Roberts, and Salvatorian College who received a visit from former pupils Richard Langley and Jamal Campbell-Ryce, joined the other guests and took to the stage to communicate to the audience, in their own words and extremely articulately, the impact the project has had on them, and how much they enjoyed the visits from the former footballers.

Stuart McLeod, Director England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re thrilled to have supported this inspiring project by the Jason Roberts Foundation, thanks to National Lottery players. It showcases the fantastic legacy of football in Brent and highlights its sporting heritage. The exhibition is a great way of bringing people together and inspiring the next generation of Eartha Ponds or Jerome Thomas’ to make their mark.”

Otis Roberts, CEO of the Foundation, acknowledged, “Without the buy-in by the players this Project would never have happened. Their commitment and dedication throughout has been invaluable.”

The former players who took to the stage spoke about how “humbled” they were to have been a part of the project, as well as the Exhibition at Wembley Stadium where Dave Regis recalled many hours spent training and being striking partners with Mark Stein eventually at Stoke City. Rachel Yankey remembered first playing in a boys team when she was young which was the start of her pathway into professional football, and that Dave Beasant also being a part of the project was especially meaningful as he had presented her with the first trophy she won. Richard Langley said he had no hesitation in being a part of the project when he was first approached by the team, and applauded the Foundation for the opportunities and experiences they continue to give people in the Brent community.

The project title, Inspire to Achieve, held special meaning for everyone involved in the programme, from JRF staff, the children and young people who took part, theHeritage Fund, key partners, stakeholders, and funders including the Football Association, the Professional Footballers Association, Higgins Partnerships, Brent Council, and Eversleigh LLP, as well as the players themselves, as speeches and conversations throughout the day were sprinkled with the words “inspirational” and “inspiring” and the importance of the Exhibition becoming a permanent feature at Wembley Stadium, the home of football, to inspire future visitors of the iconic arena.

View the Exhibition Event’s Match Day programme here: https://www.canva.com/design/DAFc6oCbtXk/ZOuSVIwIpiNQximPHaBgjA/view?utm_content=DAFc6oCbtXk&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link2&utm_source=uniquelinks&utlId=GG6i3MP0-w

To visit the exhibition – Go up the Olympic Stairs and then follow signs for Ticket Office.

Watch a short film providing an overview of the Inspire to Achieve Heritage programme here: https://we.tl/t-U2BkC1ne4K

Visit our website dedicated to the project here: https://www.inspire2achieve.co.uk