Hibernian vs Ross Country, Scottish League Cup final. The story of the match:  See the Home-Start mascots in the tunnel and walking out on to the pitch (14 secs in) and handing over the cup (1 min 52 secs in)  - Archie in orange Home-Start sweatshirt, Kyle in blue Utilita top. Read their full story below.

Children of volunteers and families working with Home-Start presented the cup to Scottish League Cup final winners, Ross County, as well as leading players out onto the pitch as mascots, at Hampden Park on Sunday 13th March 2016. 

Home-Start, one of Scotland’s leading family support charities, is the official charity partner of the Scottish League Cup, presented by Utilita Energy, which has worked closely with the charity in recent years on a number of fund-raising initiatives.

Archie Hamilton, (right) aged eight, from Haddington, near Edinburgh and Kyle Watt (below left), 13, from Alness, Ross-shire, were told just the week before the match that they been chosen to hand over the cup to the winning team, as well as being a mascot. This was the first time in the cup’s history that children have presented it.

Home-Start East Lothian and Home-Start East Highland are the closest offices of the charity to the finalists - Hibernian FC and Ross County FC. Archie and Kyle are two of twelve excited children who were recruited as mascots to lead out the teams on the big day. All are children of volunteers involved with the charity, or families supported by Home-Start.

Archie’s family have been supported by Trannet-based Home-Start East Lothian for the last year. The family say:

“We have a six year-old daughter, Nancy, who has Primary Dystonia which affects her ability to walk like other children and also has an impact on her speech. This is a condition that hopefully through brain surgery and a lot of patience and rehabilitation and medication can help her start to get more use and control over her legs and also make some improvement in her speaking. Archie, who is nine on 15th March, is her older brother and they have a wee sister, who is three and half years old.  We had heard of Home-Start through our own work but had never thought how it would benefit our family.

“Being a parent is difficult but having a child with a support need makes life that bit harder and having some help and support helps just that little bit. Everyone always asks us what they can do to help Nancy. What we also need and get from Home-Start is support or invites to events that also allow our other two children to be fussed over or just have fun. It’s about meeting the family’s needs and that's an individual experience for each family and what we have been offered is that.’’ 

The Watt family have had support from Home-Start East Highland.  Kyle (and his brother Eddie, who will be a match mascot) have been a great help to their parents through a couple of difficult years. Their mum, Fiona, has suffered from deep vein thrombosis since the birth of their twin brother & sister four years ago. She now suffers from painful and debilitating blood clots in her legs and also from life threatening clots in her lungs and heart. John, their father works full time to keep his family, but has diabetes and in 2014 he went through bypass surgery after a heart attack. Despite their health problems both parents work hard at keeping their family united and do what they can to ensure that they all have quality family time. Home-Start’s volunteer visits Fiona once a week helping her to get the twins ready for nursery and, after dropping them at school, Fiona and the volunteer go for the shopping.  The charity also helps the family to access medical appointments for Fiona and the children. The boys and their dad have been supporters of Ross County for a long time and are over the moon about this opportunity.

At the final on Sunday, football supporters were greeted at the gates of Hampden by Home-Start volunteers fundraising for the charity’s vital work with some of the other 2,500 families it supports in Scotland every year.

Shelagh Young, director of Scotland for Home-Start UK said, “Home-Start volunteers are changing the lives of families across Scotland, and we are delighted that our work is being supported by the SPFL and Utilita.

"Home-Starts depend on the support of local communities to help families and fund their work.  We are also always looking for more volunteers, including men, so this is a great opportunity to increase  awareness of what we do and how everyone can help us support more families in 2016 which is Scotland’s Year of the Dad.”

Utilita Energy CEO, Bill Bullen, added: “The work Home-Start does for some of Britain’s most vulnerable families is both vital and humbling. We have seen this first-hand.

“Charities like Home-Start need all the help they can get and we are only too delighted to bring them on board to help raise their profile in Scotland. We hope – and believe – Scottish football fans will respond to Home-Start’s magnificent work.”

The first Home-Start in Scotland was started in 1984. There are now 33 local Home-Starts working in communities right across the country.  Last year they supported almost 2,500 families and just under 5,000 children.

Mascots’ names:

Accompanying Ross County FC: Accompanying Hibernian FC:
Kyle Watt, 13 yrs Archie Hamilton, 8 yrs
Eddie Watt, 11 yrs Rory Waterson, 8 yrs
Bekki Gray, 9 yrs Charlie Colvine
Lewis Thow, 11 yrs Dawson Fulton, 11 yrs
Lucy Armstrong, 10 yrs Aiden Hepburn, 8 yrs
Argyll Kerr, 8 yrs Ada Valentine, 8 yrs