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This article is written at what is a very testing time for our club. A combination of injuries, suspensions, illness and some poor refereeing decisions have all contributed to our recent downturn in form. Competing in the Division is already hard enough ; we assume that all connected with the club are looking forward to the World Cup break and a time to regroup.

This article also coincides with the most important time of year for BST, when we hold our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elect Members to our Committee in order to drive our agenda for the year ahead.

This year is even more significant than most, in that we used our AGM to launch our new “1953 Sweepstake” - a prize draw which we hope will generate the funds that we need to do all the things that matter most to our Members and Blackpool fans generally. It is open to everyone in our community and you can sign up here :

Specifically, we are looking to help the football club to grow the fan base, particularly among younger fans of school age. Both we and the club recognise the importance of this, and Gazette readers may recall that last year we collaborated on an initiative to provide Blackpool shirts for every single year 2 child in the town’s thirty two schools that wanted one. That collaboration led to both club and Trust being short-listed for an annual award for supporter engagement, the outcome of which we will know next week.

Nomination for an award is nice. But there is a serious point underlying this. We are a relatively small club, operating in a rich Division. Getting the next generation of fans and winning their hearts early is vital for the club in the longer term.

This year, BST has been concentrating on providing opportunities for our Members’ children, grandchildren, and the children of struggling families to be a mascot at a Blackpool home game. Experience to date shows that this is proving to be a fantastic and memorable experience for all of them, and is proving immensely satisfying for us, too.

However, these things cost money. want to have a mascot initiative every year. We want to provide match tickets to local charities, to distribute to families who are having a difficult time. We want to be able to continue to support Foodbanks, wherever we can, particularly through a tough winter to come.

Where is that money to come from ?

This is where the 1953 Sweepstake comes in. We have created a website to promote it , where you, your family, friends and workmates will have the chance to sign up.

Here is that address again :

Key facts about the 1953 Sweepstake include :

- it is open to everyone, Blackpool fan or not, BST Member or not

- it will take place on a monthly basis, the first draw being on 1 December

- it costs just £5 per month to buy a ticket, albeit people can buy more than one ticket if they wish

- BST guarantees to pay out 40% of the funds generated in prize money. Where possible, we will supplement cash prizes with others, including memorabilia and club merchandise. The remaining 60% will be spent on good causes, some of which are mentioned above.

- BST is a not-for-profit charitable organisation ; we will take nothing from the pot to meet administrative costs, so there are no shareholder dividends to worry about here !

We hope you will feel able to support this initiative, which sits perfectly with our Members’ desire to support our club, our fans and the local community. . Our main focus is on helping our football club and our Members, particularly in these difficult times. But we are also trying to be a force for good in our local community as well, and that includes your families, your neighbours, and your favourite charities. We hope you will come aboard, and you will be welcomed with open arms if you do.

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