BOXING Day saw over 8,000 fans pack into Wrexham's old Racecourse Ground where supporters cheered the Red Dragons on to a stunning 5-1 victory over National League promotion rivals Salford City.

In amongst the huge crowd were over 50 disabled supporters from both sides with Wrexham's continued efforts to make life easier for the fans epitomised by the appointment earlier this year of the club's first disability liaison officer Kerry Evans.

During the game Kerry organised a bucket collection which raised an incredible £1,450, with all donations going towards funding accessible away travel for disabled supporters.

"A whooping £1,450 was raised and every penny will be going towards offering more away game to our wheelchair fans next season," said Kerry, who was helped by 13 volunteers and Wrexham midfielder Luke Young. "I would like to say a massive thank you to each and every volunteer on the day who should feel proud of the amount of money they helped to raise. Without them it would not have been possible.

"Thank you also to every single fan who donated money into those buckets. The fans' support has been outstanding."

Kerry was appointed Wrexham's disability liaison officer in January 2018 and since then she has overseen a number of innovations at the club including a server for disabled fans wishing to purchase refreshments and making the ground more autism friendly.

"I decided that the personal touch means a great deal, so I decided when we had a number of disabled fans who attended at our Chester game, I would go to each and every fan along the front row, both home and away and welcome them," she said.

"One of the first things that was really important to me and that I thought we should have in place was being able to get wheelchair-bound fans to away games.

"When I first went to the Board with my thoughts there was a belief that I was trying to do the impossible because we wanted to be fair and only charge people in line with what they were being charged on the official club coaches.

"I spent three or four months trying to find someone who could provide the service for us and I kept getting ridiculous figures back and it was turning into a never ending task."

Kerry's persistence eventually paid off when she found a company that allowed the Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) to transport four wheelchairs and their carers which she first operated on a first come / first served basis before switching to a rota system.

"It will always run at a complete loss," said Kerry. "To give you an example we went to Solihull Moors and I took in about £64 from paying passengers when the bus cost £220. The club thought this was a service I couldn't run so I vowed to them that if they let me go ahead with it I would personally take charge of all the fundraising."

One of Kerry's ideas has paid off handsomely with the money made from sales of special Wrexham AFC branded blankets helping her ongoing funding drive.

"I went to Geoff Scott, the club's commercial manager, with the idea of getting the blankets in for the wheelchair users on cold days. People thought they were fantastic and I began to wonder if we could sell them. Geoff said 'perhaps get 50 and see how you go' and we've now just sold 500th blanket!"

As a wheelchair user herself, Kerry feels she sometimes sees things that perhaps aren't picked up by able-bodied supporters or staff.

"It was also brought to my attention that there was no ramp facilities into the players entrance, meaning that disabled fans can't do the tours on our 'Open Day'. We had a ramp made and suddenly we could advertise the day to everyone and show everyone around - we had people come on the day who said they had come specifically because they knew they can get everywhere in the ground. It seems like a small thing just putting in a ramp but it was a big thing for people to be able to be part of the open day."

At away grounds, Kerry feels there is still a long way to go in terms of accessibility but she is confident things are beginning to change for the better.

"Everywhere I've been to everybody is very helpful but some of the grounds need a lot of work," she added. "I've actually been to one ground this season that didn't even offer a disabled toilet but on the whole we are making a lot of progress.

"With an old ground like ours it is not always that simple. I always feel very sorry that the away fans can't sit with their own fans but we are doing the best that we can and the improvements are going a long way to help."