TWO friends have rallied the football community to raise thousands of pounds for the NHS with a running challenge.

Kevin Keehan, manager of AFC Varndeanians, and Scott Kirkwood, who plays for Burgess Hill Town FC, decided to set up the Run5k4NHS campaign to raise money for the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust during the coronavirus crisis.

Kevin said: “Scott and I were chatting on the phone about what we’d been doing during lockdown and we’d both been out running every day as that’s all you can really do.

“His sister works for the NHS and she’s been coming home absolutely exhausted and stressed with everything.

“So we thought, we can do something here, as we know so many people through football. And now it’s just exploded.”

The Argus:

Kevin and Scott launched the Run5k4NHS campaign on social media and asked members and representatives of Sussex football clubs to run 5k and make a donation to their JustGiving page.

The pair have raised more than £25,000 in ten days through the campaign, with representatives from a wide range of teams taking part.

Kevin said: “Most people are glued to their phones at the best of times, but even more so during lockdown.

“But people are getting the running bug during their daily exercise and have been donating to an amazing cause at the same time.

“We’ve asked people to take a selfie and a snapshot of their GPS tracker after their 5k run and have been sharing all the pictures.

“Professional and ex-professional players have taken part, but it’s not just the players and managers.

“We’ve had stewards, tea ladies and match day volunteers get involved. It’s been really well received by the football community.”

Former Brighton and Hove Albion players who have joined in with Kevin and Scott’s campaign include Dean Cox, Tommy Fraser, Kerry Mayo and Adam El-Abd.

Representatives from a host of Sussex teams have run the 5k for the NHS, including Worthing Town FC, Horsham FC and Saltdean Women’s FC.

Kevin said: “We’ve had lots of women’s teams and kids’ teams take part too, with everyone from a seven-year-old to the age of 65.

“It’s gone across the globe too with people who used to live in Sussex doing the run in America, Canada, Australia and Cyprus.

“As we know the football community so well we knew they would get behind this but we just didn’t realise how much support we were going to get.

“It’s been going up by about £2,000 a day and running the social media has become like a full-time job.”

Kevin wants NHS workers to know the football community fully supports them.

He said: “It’s so much more important than football right now.

“Every time they go into work they’re putting themselves on the front line and we want them to know we appreciate everything they do.”

To donate to the Run5k4NHS campaign, go to

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. To donate visit