The reaction from Stoke City favourites and supporters says a lot to the news that the Denise Coates Foundation is donating £10m to help staff and patients at Royal Stoke and the County Hospital.
“Denise Coates and the Coates family…” said Jon Walters. “Enough said.”
After all, Walters had been talking only recently about how football clubs were handling the economic crisis which has loomed from the coronavirus pandemic – and how Stoke were setting an example even to clubs who were in last season’s Champions League final.
Stoke, owned by the Coates family who employ more than 4,000 people at bet365, had pre-empted any Government initiative to assure match day staff would be paid for games postponed this season – and told employees there would no job losses or pay cuts through an uncertain, frightening summer.
“Stoke City came out before there was any government scheme and acted,” said Walters in an interview for Off The Ball.
“I knew through a WhatsApp group. People there were full of praise for how the owners had dealt with things, communicating with them immediately and looking after them until August when hopefully we have a clearer idea about what’s happening.
“That was a great gesture from the club, but that’s Stoke City, that’s always been Stoke City.”
And now this, from the Denise Coates Foundation which was set up in 2012 and has invested huge sums of money into local charities, hospices and projects.
University Hospitals of North Midlands chief executive Tracy Bullock said: “Thanks to the Denise Coates Foundation, we will be able to prioritise the well-being of our staff at a time when they are working harder than ever before in extremely challenging circumstances and enhance and improve the care and experience of our patients and their families.
“We are also delighted that plans to redevelop our Cancer Centre can be brought forward and will have a legacy far beyond Covid-19 to protect our vulnerable cancer patients and for this we offer our deepest and sincerest thanks.”
Denise Coates CBE said she wanted to help the NHS staff and ‘its wider community of carers and volunteers’ come through a near unprecedented challenge.
She added: “There are many stories of people suffering without the comfort of close friends and family as restrictions on people’s movement prevent loved ones visiting.
“This is why I and the other Trustees felt we had to step forward and approach the UHNM to see what we could do to help.”
Stoke supporters have been getting in touch with their own messages in response to the Coates family.
Margaret Thelwell: Fabulous news. Thank you the Coates family.
Dunk Eyre: Thank you to the Coates family. A credit to Stoke again.
William Morgan: I’m so proud to be associated with our great club, Stoke City. Marvellous.
Nicky Degg: This foundation helps so many local charities and now this. What stars.
Pete Ledgar: Well done DC, for your contributions.
Dave Underwood: A credit to our city.
Wayne Stubbs: Outstanding. As well as paying staff. Can’t fault Stoke. Take note, big clubs.
Steve Hall: What a family. Proud that they own my football club.
David Walton: Amazing. What a family.
Geoff Watson: Magnificent gesture.
Leigh Brownsword: Class act
Daniel Slee: That is a heck of a decision.
Kris Jepson: Amazing well done
Sarah Wilshaw: Wow! Amazing
Jenneke Varney: Thanks Coates family!
John Shaw: Good on the Coates foundation.
James McClean and Danny Batth are among players who have also made personal donations to hospitals.
Stoke’s kit manufacturer Macron has paused football jobs to make personal protective equpment.
And Stoke players and staff from past and present have been making phone calls to fans during the UK lockdown.
Pat Mason: We had a call from Rory Delap – he was so easy to talk to – lovely guy! We were so surprised and pleased. Well done Stoke City! Much appreciated.
Kevin Chell: This is what a football club is about, not just what happens on the pitch, but by being a big part of that community. In these difficult times Stoke City have stepped up to the mark. In fact, the Coates family have reacted fantastically.
Cliff Brown: A great big thank you to my football club. We can no longer attend matches on a regular basis as my wife is one of the heroic nurses at the Hartshill complex and is often at work on Saturday (she enjoys the matches as much as I do). Currently her ward has been set aside for coronavirus victims and everything the club is doing is much appreciated.
Derek Burton: I had a call from Kevin Rooster Russell!
Adrian Leigh: Mike Pejic rang my parents at the weekend as long time season ticket holders, and had a long chat. It really made mum’s day. Great guy, great club.