Sheffield Wednesday Football Club has given the club's shirt sponsorship for the next two seasons (2009/10 and 2010/11) to The Children's Hospital, Sheffield and its charity.
In a pioneering move, the club becomes the first in the Championship to donate their shirt sponsorship in this way. Sheffield Wednesday's new playing strip will be unveiled ahead of the 2009/10 season with the hospital name and The Children's Hospital Charity logo emblazoned on the shirt and shorts.
Sheffield Wednesday chairman, Lee Strafford, said the decision represents how seriously the club takes its social responsibility and its role in the community.
"We are proud to say loud and clear that Sheffield Wednesday wants to break the current football mould by getting away from the perception that football is just about money. Bringing together key stakeholders in Sheffield to drive local and national value is a key part of our strategy."
While the Children's Hospital Charity has officially signed the sponsorship deal, this partnership brings the club, the charity and the hospital together as one. This collaboration will help maximise benefits for all partners with the charity and the hospital able to increase awareness of their work nationally and across the globe and also develop community health strategies alongside the club locally.
The Children's Hospital, Sheffield and The Children's Hospital Charity were an obvious choice for Sheffield Wednesday's shirt sponsorship, as the hospital is renowned throughout the UK and internationally for the outstanding work it undertakes. The latest Healthcare Commission audit showed Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust to be the number one children's NHS health trust in the country with an 'Excellent' rating for both the Quality of Service and Use of Resources categories.
"We are absolutely delighted that this partnership will not only help to raise awareness of what is being achieved in this city, but also represents an exciting opportunity to develop new community initiatives across Sheffield and we invite other key local stakeholders to come and get involved in this project," Strafford added.
Chris Sharratt, Chief Executive of The Children's Hospital Sheffield had been surprised and delighted by Sheffield Wednesday's approach.
He said: "This sponsorship represents an outstanding offer of support by Sheffield Wednesday for the work that the hospital and our charity do and the great many children and their families from all across the country that we see every day.
"To have our name across the Wednesday shirt will raise awareness of our hospital across the country and indeed around the world. It also gives us a fantastic opportunity to work together with the club to use the pull of football to introduce exciting health initiatives with children in the communities across the city region.
"Sheffield Wednesday have always been hugely supportive of our charity with ongoing fundraising activity and regular visits to the hospital, demonstrating the profoundly inspirational effect that footballers can have on youngsters. This new partnership takes our association to a whole new level though and we are looking forward to building on this strong relationship over the next two years."
David Vernon-Edwards, Charity Director at The Children's Hospital Charity, said: "We are delighted to be the partners in this generous decision. Sheffield Wednesday has given us an amazing platform to increase brand awareness and reach further into the community. Increased awareness will help us to raise further funds to support and enhance the excellent work of the hospital and help it maintain its position as a centre of excellence for paediatric care.
"We hope through the partnership our message will go worldwide and that our young patients and their families, who are at the centre of everything we do, will benefit from the increased support we can offer them.
"My team and I are really looking forward to working with the hospital and Sheffield Wednesday on this partnership and are very excited about seeing our logo on the shirts."
As part of the strategic relationship that has now been established, a programme of community focused events and brand building exercises that combine corporate partners of Sheffield Wednesday and The Children's Hospital are being developed.