Coventry City defender Aaron Martin has been named the Sky Bet Football League Unsung Hero of the Month

Aaron Martin with his Sky Bet Football League Unsung Hero award
Image: Aaron Martin with his Sky Bet Football League Unsung Hero award

Coventry defender Aaron Martin has been named the Sky Bet Football League Unsung Hero of the Month for January.

This season alone, he has made seven community visits on behalf of the club, giving 24 hours of his time in addition to attending countless club events.

He has also visited a number of schools, helping children from disadvantaged communities to read, eat healthily and become active, especially in the Bell Green and Wood End area of Coventry, which has just been named the most deprived area of the country.

Martin said: "A lot has happened over the last year or two with close friends and family. A few of my friends have lost people very close to them. I just feel that I am in a privileged position to do more, so I'm going to do more from now on.

"We go into the schools and have a chat with some of the kids, sign some stuff and take photos with them.

"It's very important to eat properly. You see so much in the news about kids being overweight. It's really important that they learn how to eat properly, just for them to have a better life. If we can help to teach them at an early age that maybe they are eating the wrong sorts of food or that they need to eat smaller portions than what they do, it will lead to them being a lot healthier.

"And it will help to bring the statistics down like Jamie Oliver does with his work in getting healthy eating into schools, which I think is brilliant.

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"I know that it's expensive to eat really healthily and you can understand with parents who don't have a lot of money that food does take a step back in terms of eating the right foods because the foods that aren't as good for you aren't as expensive. It is hard but if they know what to eat, maybe they will change it a little bit."

Martin's most striking act on behalf of others this season was a £1,000 donation he made to the local University Hospital in Coventry.

He originally offered to donate £1,000 worth of toys to the children's unit but, after consulting with the University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire (UHCW) Charity, agreed to contribute towards the creation of a beach scene at the entrance to the Children's Emergency Department.

"The UHCW is trying to make hospital a less frightening experience for children," said Adela Appleby, head of UHCW. "The Children's Emergency Department has been transformed into a bespoke under-sea scene and the virtual beach is the final stage.

"Coventry City are great supporters of the project. The players spend time with the children around Christmas and together the players and staff buy a gift for us for the children's unit. This year they bought us a big plasma screen TV and a DVD recorder for the teenagers' chill-out room.

"Aaron wanted to do more. He asked personally what he could do to help us. He really got what a difference the environment can make to children coming into hospital. And the children, their families and the staff are thrilled to have his support. It's a real boost for everybody and his donation has also helped us to create awareness for the appeal.

"It's fantastic that he is getting the Unsung Hero award. It's really important for people to know that footballers are committed to the community."

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