Derby dad nominated for Pride of Britain after raising £35,000 for special schools through football

ITV Central reporter Rosie Dowsing speaks to Pride of Britain nominee David Martins about what motivates him to raise money for special schools.

A dad from Derby who raised over £35,000 for special needs schools through organising football matches, has been nominated for a Pride of Britain award.

David Martins set up the SEN United football team in 2015, involving parents and teachers of children with special educational needs.

He was inspired by his daughter, 14-year-old Layla, who has Down's Syndrome. 

The money raised from the football matches is put towards equipment and facilities at special schools in Derby. 

David Martins started the SEN United football team in 2015 and has since raised over £35,000 for special schools in Derby. Credit: ITV Central

David says seeing people turn up for the matches in support of the cause means the world to him. 

He said: “I’m proud. I’m very proud to see everyone getting together and having fun, I can’t thank everyone who gets involved enough. 

“It’s very very special to me.”

In the last 8 years David’s SEN United football team has raised money for state-of-the-art equipment at Layla’s former school, St Giles Spencer Academy, and more recently for her current school St Andrews. 

They have raised over £35,000 pounds through matches and sponsorships - and around 50 players have taken part over the years.  

David with his SEN United football team.

David’s teammates say he is an inspiration.

Player Richard Jackson, who is also Deputy Headteacher at Bracken Hill School in Nottingham, said: "It's fantastic to see the way he supports his daughter.

"It's brilliant to see the commitment he shows to this team, and it's lovely to see the impact of the fundraising he's led."

Ben Asquith is the SEN United Captain but also works for the Derby County Community Trust. He describes David as 'a lovely bloke'.

He said: "Dave gives all his time. He literally picks the squad, sets the venues up, it must take some serious effort. Fair play to him."

Currently, the team is fundraising for a new sensory classroom in a garden area at St Andrews School.

The Pride of Britain award that David has been nominated for recognises individuals who go above and beyond to fundraise for good causes in their communities. 

It's an award sponsored by ITV regions, and the winner will be invited to the national Pride of Britain ceremony in London later this year.

The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards is one of the biggest events in the showbiz calendar - but it’s the real people, not the celebrities, who are the stars of the show.