Ross Holden (Crusaders), Patricia McCabe (NI Hospice Auxiliary Nurse), Sir Bruce Robinson (NI Hospice), Andrew Johnston (NIFL), Debbie Sharkey (NI Hospice) and Glenavon's Mark Sykes help launch the 2016/17 NI Hospice Charity Shield

NEW SEASON KICKS OFF WITH CHARITY SHIELD IN AID OF NORTHERN IRELAND HOSPICE

The curtain will be raised on the new domestic football season on Saturday, July 30, when Danske Bank Premiership champions Crusaders face last season's Irish Cup winners Glenavon.

The game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan, will once again benefit Northern Ireland Hospice, supporting its world-class palliative care services, staff, patients and families.

Glentoran won the Charity Shield last season thanks to a narrow victory over Belfast rivals Crusaders. This time around, it is Crusaders once again, or Glenavon, who will get the chance to play host to the trophy for the next 12 months.

Northern Ireland Hospice recently opened a £13m dementia-friendly hospice in Belfast – an 18-bedroom facility that provides the highest quality care to patients and support for loved ones. 

The new hospice also includes an In Patient Unit, a Day Hospice, an education and research centre, private patient gardens, family facilities and a community nursing hub.

It costs £6m per year for Northern Ireland Hospice to provide its services in hospice and in the community. 

Heather Weir, NI Hospice CEO said: "Northern Ireland football clubs and the local fans have been great supporters of Northern Ireland Hospice throughout the years. Last year’s final was a great spectacle and we hope this season’s opener will be just as entertaining.

"Events such as the Charity Shield are of vital importance to Northern Ireland and the gesture from players, clubs and supporters is greatly appreciated throughout our organisation."

Andrew Johnston, NIFL Managing Director, is delighted that Northern Ireland Hospice will benefit once again from gate receipts generated from the game.

He said: "To be able to support such a fantastic charity as the Northern Ireland Hospice is very important for the NIFL.

"This game will not only be a success on the pitch as both Glenavon and Crusaders will to want to put in a good performance ahead of the Premiership kick off a week later, but off the pitch the match should raise many thousands of pounds for Northern Ireland Hospice. For the NIFL to be able to raise so much money for charity just shows how worthwhile this match is for everyone involved."

Entry to the game will be £8 adult, £5 for 12-16 years-old, U12s enjoy free admission.

Tags:  Crusaders  Glenavon