Wesley Fofana, Alan Birchenall & James Maddison

‘It’s Unique To Our Club’ – Birch On Final Run For Neonatal Incubator Appeal

Alan ‘The Birch’ Birchenall has thanked all those involved with his End of Season Run as he prepares to embark on one final heroic effort to support Leicester Hospitals Charity's Neonatal Incubator Appeal.
More on this story...

- The Birch’s 40th Annual End of Season Run will take place on Sunday
- The event is in aid of Leicester Hospitals Charity’s Neonatal Incubator Appeal
- The Club Ambassador called on the Blue Army to show their generosity once more
- Click HERE for more information on how to donate or volunteer at King Power Stadium 

The much-loved Club Ambassador, who played for Leicester City between 1971 and 1977, is set for a momentous 40th Run at King Power Stadium this Sunday, ahead of kick-off against Southampton on the last day of the Premier League season.

Set up by the Birch in the early 1980s, the annual event, which has collected over £1M for local causes, was curtailed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returns for one last time, focusing on raising funds for the Neonatal Incubator Appeal.

Leicester Hospitals Charity specialises in care of babies in the first 28 days of their life and who have either been born early, have low weight or who have a medical condition that requires specialised treatment. They wish to replace older incubators and upgrade them with the very latest model that encompasses state of the art technology to give babies the best chance of survival.

Sitting down with LCFC TV earlier this week, the Birch commented: “Obviously with the pandemic, I’ve missed the last two years. I said to myself after the 39th that was it, and then something just came in and I got requests. I’ve been saying it’s the final one for the last 20 years!

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The Birch at Filbert Street
The Birch at Filbert Street

The Foxes faithful give some encouragement from the stands at Filbert Street during an early edition of the event.

“At Filbert Street, when it started all those years ago, just by chance, I just went for it. It was easy back in the old days. I’d just put a shirt on and run round with a bucket. I could still run back then! I was helped by the supporters, got a few buckets together, did that, raised a few ‘bob’ and thought that was it.

“But then you open a letter, and something just touches you. There’s always someone in need and I’m inundated with requests because there are so many charities out there. Every charity, in its own way, has something meaningful - and they need the money. We’ve tried to spread it across as many avenues within the city and county as we possibly could.”

More than 100 charities have benefitted from the previous 39 runs. The Birch explained the importance of this year’s charity and why any funds raised are so crucial to Leicester Hospitals Charity, which has historic links to the Football Club.

He continued: “Many years ago, we went out and acquired an incubator for the LRI. Every Christmas, I go along with the team. We always went in the baby unit and had a look at the incubator that the Blue Army had bought, with a plaque on it saying, ‘donated from Leicester City Football Club’.

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The Birch & Brendan Rodgers
The Birch & Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers joined the Birch on his 39th Annual Run.

“When I’ve been in over the years, the nurses in that ward tell me there are hundreds, if not thousands of babies from when the first incubator went in. And how many of those have grown up to become Leicester City fans? It’s magic.

“But like me, it’s got old and needs replacing. The state of the art ones are expensive so, again, the Blue Army will hopefully be generous enough so that we can acquire these. It would be unbelievable. Nothing would give me more pleasure than having this season finish with enough money for this new equipment.”

Fans are asked to give what they can, if they can, with acknowledgement from the Birch of the tough times that many are facing. He thanked the supporters for the generosity they have shown, especially in the current climate.

The 76-year-old added: “There will be collectors like normal and a message going up on the big screens. If the Blue Army follow that, they can make their donations that way. I’ll try and get to as many people as possible.

It hasn’t been a run for the last few years! But if I can hobble round, it’s not about the run, it’s about the Leicester City fans. They are the ones who enable the charities to receive whatever I’m running for.

Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall LCFC TV

“I’m not asking for a fortune. I know things are so difficult at the moment for every family. For me to come and ask again for the 40th time, it’s hard. But if you can, please just donate a couple of quid.

“Fans know I don’t run, I jog a little bit, but mainly I just get round. It’s not about me doing anything, it’s raising money and hopefully we can do it. Especially after what everyone has been through over the last year - empty stadiums, the pandemic - it just seems to have been an eternity.

“They’ve amazed me every time we’ve gone out. I want to get as much as we can.”

Many famous names have supported the Birch throughout the decades and, on this final run, he will be joined by players past and present, members of staff at the Football Club, as well as local nurses and supporters.

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The Birch, Peter Schmeichel & Brian Kidd
The Birch, Peter Schmeichel & Brian Kidd

Plenty of big names have taken part over the years.

“As it’s gone on, I’ve got slower and older,” he joked. “It hasn’t been a run for the last few years! But it’s about the Leicester City fans. They are the ones who enable the charities to receive whatever I’m running for.

“I’d like to thank the staff here as well who have been with me over the years. I’ve had loads of different people running round – ex-players and others like that.

“This is it now, 40 is a good one [to stop at]. And there are two or three people who have asked me if they can carry it on, so hopefully it will carry on in the future. It’s unique to our Football Club.”

To donate to the Birch’s 40th Annual End of Season Run in aid of Leicester Hospitals Charity’s Neonatal Incubator Appeal, please use the methods below.

TEXT: BIRCH40RUN followed by your donation amount to 70450 to give that amount.

ONLINE: LCFC.com/birch40

IN PERSON: Donate on the day of the match against Southampton.

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