Hibernian Community Foundation’s 2023 Review

As we enter 2024, we would like to take a moment to reflect on an incredibly successful 2023 for the Foundation!


The Foundation announce the return of Women’s Recreational Football, open to females of all footballing abilities, aged 18 and above, to be held at the Powerleague in Portobello throughout February and March. This presented the opportunity to meet new people and stay active in a fun and sociable environment.



In partnership with Leod Music, the Hibernian Community Choir was launched. This latest HCF initiative is all about encouraging people to congregate, build confidence, and learn some new songs, working with those who can sing, those who think they can’t sing; those who love to sing, and those who didn’t even know they could sing!



Hibs Heroes Holiday Camps were launched for the first time. A brand new provision providing young people aged 5-14years of age with action packed football opportunities during the school holidays at various locations across Edinburgh and East Lothian.



Coaches from the HCF Boys Academy and HCF Girls Academy attend Easter Road for the first of four Continuing Professional Development sessions, discussing the Academy ethos, values, DNA, principles of play, as well as the coaches’ code of conduct.



The Foundation announce the Ron Gordon 24-Hour Football Challenge. Held in memory of Hibernian’s Executive Chairman, Ron Gordon, who sadly passed in February, this initiative took place at the Hibernian Training Centre, with participants taking part in 11-a-side football matches for at least an hour, under the direction of first team players and some Hibs Legends. After an hour, new players were subbed, ensuring the match kept going non-stop for 24 hours!


HCF begin weekly Walking Football sessions, a programme primarily aimed at Over 50’s, although players of all ages and abilities are welcome. These sessions take place at Leith Academy every Friday from 3pm – 4:45pm.



The HCF proudly announce the Ron Gordon 24-Hour Football Challenge has raised over £32,000. Among other things, this funding allows the Foundation to launch its first Friday Lunch Club, in addition to the Monday and Wednesday clubs that were already running at Easter Road.


Hibs.net Girls’ Festival 2023 took place which saw over 1,100 players from 72 clubs across the UK compete at Meadowmill Sports Centre. The event which was open to teams from U10s to U16s was tipped as the largest UK Girls’ Only Football Festival in 2023.



Brian McDermott, appointed Hibernian’s Director of Football in May, is the guest speaker at this month’s SoS meeting. (Supporting Our Supporters is a mental health drop-in hosted by the HCF as a continuation of the 12-week The Changing Room sessions run by Scottish Action for Mental Health at Easter Road.) Brian’s inspirational talk encapsulates his four decades as a professional footballer, manager, and scout, as well as a forthright discussion about coping with mental health and addiction.



The Foundation announces a new partnership, with Loretto, the independent school based in Musselburgh (whose alumni include former Formula 1 World Champion, Jim Clark, and journalist Andrew Marr!)


HCF host Lipscomb Academy Soccer women’s team, travelling all the way to Leith from Nashville, Tennessee (almost 4,000 miles!)



The Foundation complete the 2023 Edinburgh Kiltwalk, raising funds for the local Ukrainian community and the HCF’s Football for All provision. More than 300 Hibees support the Foundation by raising money and walking the 5km ‘Wee Wander.’ The incredible support means the HCF are the biggest charity taking part in the Edinburgh Kiltwalk! Team Hibernian is led by the First Team squad alongside Club staff members, including new Head Coach, Nick Montgomery, and the Foundation’s Board, whilst sporting Hibee tartan kilts and Foundation t-shirts.


The Hibs v Dundee Premiership fixture, chosen as the first Foundation Matchday of the season, is a great success, with the HCF showcasing their diverse programmes while raising funds for their Community Outreach and Football for All provision. Special thanks go out to Bevvy, who changed the QR code landing page on club jerseys to the Foundation website, in support of this fundraising activity. Additionally, the HCF thanked match sponsors Bevvy, Utilita, Dunedin IT, Whisky Row and Capital Credit Union, for each donating one minute of LED advertising space to the Foundation for the fixture.



Lifelong Hibee, Ger Freedman, the Chairman of Leith Athletic, is invited to be the keynote speaker at the SoS drop-in. He discusses ongoing community initiatives across Leith, as well as his prominent role in 1990’s Hands Off Hibs campaign (when the Hibs community rallied to block a hostile takeover of their club by Heart of Midlothian’s then owner, Wallace Mercer).



The HCF Walking Football team takes part in their first-ever competitive tournament on Sunday 26 November, reaching the semi-final of the Raith Rovers Christmas Cup.


The final SoS meeting of 2023 takes place in the stadium’s ‘Away’ dressing room. After attending the Scottish Action for Mental Health, The Changing Room’s annual event (where fans from across Scotland’s senior clubs met at Hampden Stadium to celebrate the ongoing success of The Changing Room), HCF volunteers had invited participants of The Changing Room running at Hearts to join them in sharing mental health stories.



The Foundation announce the appointment of four Ambassadors, a quartet of lifelong Hibernian supporters who have now pledged to back the supportive work undertaken by the HCF in the local area: ‘Sir’ David Gray, unofficially knighted by fans for scoring the 2016 Scottish Cup final winner, actor Dougray Scott, broadcaster Grant Stott, and bestselling author, Irvine Welsh.


In what has now become an annual tradition, the Foundation provide 500 free lunches for the local community. Head Coach, Nick Montgomery is joined by various members of the first team and women’s squad to help serve meals and distribute presents. A team of enthusiastic volunteers ensure a meal delivery service for those struggling to make it to the stadium, and hampers are also provided. The 2023 Christmas Appeal is also supported by Utilita Giving, with special thanks to The Ellen & Ian Graham Charitable Foundation.


Ron Gordon’s Extra Time Programme run in partnership with the Scottish FA and Active Schools Edinburgh commenced which saw 60 families from the Leith community receive weekly after school provision in the form of 9hrs of physical activity sessions and a youth club three times per week. All families are also supported with hot meals, food packs, parent / carer training & support as well as each child receiving a Joma apparel pack which includes over £300 worth of clothing and footwear for each young person.


Finally, after an extremely busy year, following extensive planning and discussions regarding the identity and future ambitions of HCF, the Foundation launch a major rebranding to reconstruct our identity and fully showcase the incredibly strong partnership that we have with Hibernian FC. The redesigned logo highlights the importance of the fans of the club and the supporters of the charity as we put a spotlight on our brand-new slogan – Your Club, Your Charity.


Chair of Hibernian Community Foundation, Mags McPherson, commented:


“The Hibernian Community Foundation, the charitable arm of Hibernian Football Club, is all about harnessing the power of sport to improve people’s lives. As we prepare to expand our rebranded services, the Foundation look forward to achieving even greater things in 2024. Happy New Year to all!”


Words by Mark Fleming