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Care Home Celebrates Its Footballing Legacy With 1966 Autograph Hunter

Care home Signature at Hendon Hall has once again opened its doors to footballers and fans as it celebrates its place in sporting history as part of a fundraising campaign to support the Bobby Moore Fund at Cancer Research UK.

Hendon Hall is remembered by many as the hotel where England’s winning World Cup squad stayed during the 1966 tournament. Now a luxury care home, Signature at Hendon Hall invited old and new generations of football fans back to the famous grounds to honour the 1966 team captain Bobby Moore’s legacy and celebrate the start of the Women’s World Cup.

After unearthing a black and white photograph of the children who flocked to the hotel to cheer on the World Cup squad in 1966, Signature at Hendon Hall launched a nation-wide hunt for the young autograph hunters. After four months, and having drafted in BBC presenter Jenny Bond to support the online campaign, the care home was contacted by 70-year-old Michael Hart, who is pictured alongside Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Moore.

On Saturday, Signature at Hendon Hall invited Michael to return to the historic site, alongside the local Garston Ladies FC U8P squad, which Signature Senior Lifestyle sponsors, and the Mayor of Barnet Councillor Nagus Narenthira. Alongside resident John Marshall, the group unveiled a plaque to Bobby Moore and celebrated the naming of the ‘Captain’s Corner’ in the home’s ‘Bar 66’.

The celebration provided an opportunity for the home to reveal the fruits of a six-month fundraising campaign, which saw Residents and Colleagues raise an impressive £1,500 for the Booby Moore Fund, which supports pioneering research into Bowel Cancer.

Michael, who lives locally and who still has his cherished autograph book featuring autographs of 9 of the 11 starting players, donated the book to the Bobby Moore Fund so that it can be auctioned to raise further funds.

With England’s Women seeking to emulate the heroes of 1966 in their World Cup campaign, guests were also treated to a specially recorded message to the home by former Lioness and current BBC broadcaster, Anita Asante. The footballing legend, who has represented the UK at the World Cup and the Olympics, celebrated the impressive legacy of Bobby Moore, as well as the Residents’ fundraising efforts for the Bobby Moore Fund.

Guests and Residents watched the opening game of the Lionesses campaign in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, celebrated the Lionesses victory, and shared their memories of tournaments over the years. BBQ lunch prepared by the home’s exceptional chefs, rounded out the day.

John Marshall, resident at Signature Senior Lifestyle, said:
“We are so proud that our home holds such a special place in both national and footballing history. I idolised the 1966 squad growing up, so it has been a pleasure to raise funds in Bobby Moore’s honour and to hear from the new generation of footballing stars!”

Rakhee Popat, Client Liaison Manager at Signature at Hendon Hall, said: “We were so excited when we found one of the young autograph hunters, Michael, and so please he was able to join the event. Together with residents, the community and our special guests, we had a wonderful day watching the football, celebrating the Lionesses, and marking Bobby Moore’s connection to the home.”

Anita Asante, BBC Sport pundit and former Lioness, said: “I want to commend all the residents, relatives and fundraisers who have done an amazing job so far. It’s a great nod to the history of the Signature at Hendon Hall Care Home, the ’66 England team that stayed there, and of course to Bobby Moore. […] He has been, as was the England team of ’66, a massive inspiration to me and many footballers over the decades.”

Michael Hart, the young autograph hunter, said: “In 1966, I was 13 and living in Holders Hill Avenue which is close to the old Hendon Hall Hotel. When the tournament started, only a few people were interested in the team, but as they progressed the crowds grew significantly. I remember on the Saturday morning of the final, someone came out of the hotel asking if anyone wanted a ticket. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any money on me and missed out, something that has annoyed me all my life. I was at hotel when the team arrived back after they had won the cup and the scene was amazing, so many happy faces.”

 

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