Celebrity Charity Champion: Rob Green, runner-up

Instead of sunbathing on the beach this summer, West Ham United's goalkeeper climbed Kilimanjaro and worked in Kenya for health charity Amref. 'It ranks above all my footballing achievements,' he says.

Rob Green, who couldn't make it to the awards, pictured in Nairobi, Kenya
Rob Green, who couldn't make it to the awards, pictured in Nairobi, Kenya

With England absent from Euro 2008 this summer, the majority of footballers are likely to have used their extended break to kick back on the beach.

But not Rob Green. Instead, the West Ham United goalkeeper used his holiday to raise more than £30,000 for the African Medical Research Foundation (Amref) by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and to get involved in the charity's aid projects in the region. Unusually for a Premier League footballer, Green approached Amref to ask what he could do for them.

"I wanted to experience something other than lying on a beach, and the climb was a wonderful challenge," says Green. "Football's a great life, but it's a very closed life - you don't get a chance to see different things."

Green travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, with Amref, a health charity that works in the poorest areas of Africa to provide people with schooling, food and health checks. He worked with the organisation's staff to help spread Amref's messages on HIV and Aids, health and peace in the slums of Dagoretti and Kibera in the Kenyan capital.

"I'm in a fortunate position to be able to affect people through football and use it to do something to help," he says. "The satisfaction I got was far greater than if I had gone to a resort."

Amref also challenged Green to climb Kilimanjaro - the highest peak in Africa at 5,895m (19,341ft) - to raise money for its health projects. "It's the hardest thing I've ever done," he says. "It ranks above all my footballing achievements."

Paul Marvell, head of fundraising and communications at Amref, says the impact that Green's support has had on the charity has been extraordinary.

"The media coverage that Rob was able to generate was amazing," he says. "He has introduced us to audiences that a small charity like us wouldn't necessarily have reached otherwise."

The keeper's trip was given column inches in the sports pages of The Sun and The Independent, and Green appeared on Sky's Soccer AM and on radio stations from London to Norwich to talk about Amref.

"Rob helped to link football with our work," says Marvell. "Young people in the slums play football - they could connect that with Rob and the charity because it's what he does for a living.

"He also helped to improve our relationship with colleagues in Kenya because they were excited to have a professional footballer on board."

Marvell says Green's flexibility and generosity with his time are the things that stand out about him the most.

"Not only does he genuinely understand what Amref is trying to do, but he is incredibly enthusiastic and committed to our work."

Graham Willgoss

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