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Inspiring Your Future Through Sport
Your Club Your Community

Meet Our Patrons

The Sheffield United Community Foundation are delighted to introduce our Patrons.

Our Patrons (in alphabetical order) are Sean Bean, Bob Booker, Alan Hodgkinson MBE, Brendan Ingle, Ding Junhui, Nick Matthew, and Glyn Rhodes MBE 

The Charity is extremely grateful to our Patrons for their support and their generous commitment of their time.

The following are short biographies of our esteemed Patrons:

  Sean Bean

Sean was born here in Sheffield and after a variety of jobs in the city he joined London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in April 1980.

Sean's professional acting debut was in a production of Romeo and Juliet in 1983 and he went on to make a number of appearances on stage in London's West End.

More recently Sean's career has focused on film and TV. He is best known for portraying Boromir in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Eddard Stark in TVs the Game of Thrones and fictional British Officer Richard Sharpe in the Iseries Sharpe. Other notable works include Alec Trevelyan in the James Bond film GoldenEye, Odysseus in Troy, Dr. Merrick in The Island, Ian Howe in National Treasure, Zeus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Ulric in Black Death.

Sean's first love is football and he has been a passionate Sheffield United fan from a very young age; he famously has a tattoo on his left shoulder that reads "100% Blade".

Need we say more!

Bob Booker

Robert 'Bob' Booker is a well known Blade who played for the club between 1988 and 1991 making109 appearances.

His career started at Brentford in 1978 where he spent ten seasons playing in the lower divisions before switching to Sheffield United with whom he enjoyed his most successful period. During his time with SUFC he gained two promotions, playing in the top flight of English football.

He returned to Brentford for a further two seasons before injuries led to his retirement. A spell on the coaching staff at Brentford was followed by a period as assistant manager at Brighton & Hove Albion where he was twice installed as caretaker manager during his tenure.

We are delighted to welcome Bob as one of our Patrons
Alan Hodgkinson MBE

Alan is another Blades Legend who was the club’s keeper over an illustrious career that spanned 18 years and 675 first team appearances.

In 1966–67, he won the Sheffield United Supporters player of the year award. Alan was also an England International at full and under-23 levels, making his debut for both during the 1956–57 season. His first of five full England caps came against Scotland. He was also in England's squad for the 1958 and 1962 World Cup in Sweden and Chile.

After his playing career ended Alan moved in to coaching and worked at numerous clubs, including Rangers, Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Leicester City, Sheffield Wednesday, Gillingham, Oldham Athletic, Watford, Birmingham City, Coventry and Manchester United, where he is credited with bringing Peter Schmeichel to the club. Alan was also goalkeeper coach for the Scotland national. Alan retired from his last club Oxford United and from football in August 2012 at the age of 76.

Alan also spent six years as assistant manager of Gillingham between 1975 and 1981.

He received his MBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.

We are honoured to have Alan as one of our Patrons.
    Brendan Ingle MBE

Brendan came to Sheffield from Dublin in the late 1950's at the age of18-years-old. All of his brothers boxed and a young Brendan decided to follow them, taking up the sport with the help of a friend of his fathers.

A former Irish amateur champion, he boxed as a middleweight with his first professional contest coming in 1965. At his peak Brendan was ranked number eight fighter in the UK.

Brendan opened his first gym in Wincobank in 1964 and the Ingle Gym has been training boxers, ever since. The gym has proudly produced World champions, European champions, Commonwealth champions, British champions and English champions.

Instantly recognisable and synonymous with the gym are the names of: Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson, Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, Ryan Rhodes, Junior Witter and recent prodigies in the form of Kell Brook, Abdul Barry Awad (Kid Galahad) and Richard Towers.

Brendan was awarded an MBE in 1998 for his services and contributions to British boxing and his work with young people in the Sheffield area.

We are grateful for Brendan's support of the Foundation
Ding Junhui

Ding is a Chinese professional snooker player based here in Sheffield. He is currently ranked in the world’s top ten.

Ding Junhui is China's most successful player ever, having become only the second teenager, after John Higgins, to win three ranking titles. As a prolific breakbuilder Ding has compiled more than 200 century breaks during his career.

In December 2006, he enrolled at Shanghai Jiao Tong University to study Business Administration and Management.

Ding has now featured in 8 Ranking event finals, winning 6 of the events.

We are delighted that Ding has made his Uk home in Sheffield and has agreed to support our Foundation as a Patron

Mark Labbett

TV's Mark 'The Beast' Labbett is best known for his role as a 'Chaser' on the ITV UK teatime game show The Chase.

As a child he was head-and-shoulders above his classmates leading to him receiving the nickname "The Beast" as a teenager.

He obtained an MA in Mathematics from Oxford University before he became interested in quizzing when working at Butlins holiday camp, where he supplemented his income with winnings from the quiz machines.

In 2007, he was ranked as the 13th top quizzer in the country and has appeared on several quizzing game shows such as Mastermind, BrainTeaser, SUDO-Q, Millionaire Live, Only Connect and University Challenge.

In 2011, Mark joined Redtooth as a quiz setter and toured the country in 2012 with his successful "Beat the Beast" format Image. Redtooth is the UK’s leading supplier of entertainment to the licensed trade and currently have the naming rights to Sheffield United's Shirecliffe Academy which has produced millions of pounds worth of home-grown talent in recent seasons, as well as being the Community Foundation's office operating base.

In 2013 he also became the sole Chaser on the American version of The Chase, Gameshow Networks most watched show.

Mark is also a big supporter of the Blades and we are delighted to have his support as a Patron of the Community Foundation.
Nick Matthew

Nick is a Two Time World Squash Champion and Double Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist.

Nick made his breakthrough on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Men’s World Tour in 2006 when, seeded six, he claimed his maiden British Open title to become the first home-grown winner of the world’s most prestigious event for 67 years. In 2009, Matthew went on to reclaim the world-famous trophy and the triumph brought to a notable climax a twelve-month period in which the England No.1 battled back to top form after undergoing career-threatening shoulder surgery.

Title triumphs in four successive 2010 events led to Matthew topping the world rankings for the first time in June to become the first English World No.1 for six years

Boosted by Gold Medals in the Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Matthew went on to finish the year on a high, winning the World Open for the first time in Saudi Arabia and becoming the first Englishman to do so. Closing out the year by winning the PSA Masters, again in Delhi, ensured that Matthew was crowned 2010 PSA Player of the Year.

Matthew has maintained his status within the sports peloton with subsequent career highlights including successfully defending his World Open title in 2011 and winning a record fifth British Nationals title and third British Open crown.

The Foundation are pleased to welcome a world champion born and bred in the great city of Sheffield as a Patron.
    Glyn Rhodes MBE

Glyn “Showboat” Rhodes is another famous son of Sheffield.

As a professional boxer he turned pro at the age of 19 with Brendan Ingle as his manager/trainer.

Glyn went on to have 65 professional fights fighting all over Europe including France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland winning 33 bouts along the way. Glyn retired in 1993 and gained his trainers license in 1994, and then subsequently his managers license and eventually his promotors license.

Glyn opened his own Gym, the Sheffield Boxing Centre in 1994 at Burton Street close to Burton Street School, Sheffield that gained fame in the Full Monty and has trained IBF world champion Clinton Woods.

Glyn was awarded an MBE in the 2012 New Year's Honours List for services to boxing and young people.

Another invaluable addition to our Patrons and we are very proud that Glyn has agreed to support the foundation
    Steve D. Smith MBE

Steve D. Smith MBE is a criminal lawyer from Sheffield working in Rotherham at Wilford Smith Limited.

In 1979 he began his career in the Courts, appearing at Magistrates’ and Crown Courts around the country. Despite the opportunity of working with large firms in the big cities, he chose to stay in Rotherham because he had grown to like it and its people.

In 1981 alongside his good friend Steve Wilford, he formed Wilford Smith Limited who specialise in fraud and environmental cases, together with serious crime, such as murder, manslaughter and drug related offences

In over 40 years of experience, Steve has acquired a nationwide reputation for dealing with criminal and environmental law matters. He has represented a number of controversial cases and celebrities including Adam Faith, the former featherweight champion of the world Prince Naseem Hamed and more recently the Peer Lord Ahmed.

Alongside all this Steve is a writer and has several published books. Following appearing on BBC television Rough Justice programmes, centering on the famous biker case he dealt with in the 1990’s, in which an innocent man had been convicted of murder he wrote his first book ‘Hell is not for Angels’. Following this he moved to anecdotes about his life in the Yorkshire courts, and so Boozers, Ballcocks & Bail series was formed.

Steve was awarded the MBE in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2006 for services to Rotherham and South Yorkshire Charities.
He has also been awarded the ‘Freedom of the Borough of Rotherham’ in 2013, only the thirteenth recipient of this award.

We are delighted to have Steve as Patron of the Foundation and are very proud of his support.