Barry’s beloved Leeds United helps his fitness journey

Barry Larkin is a well-known face around Elland Road for fans and staff alike.

His affiliation with the club stretches back over 50 years to the 1973/74 season.

Known for his larger-than-life character and his wearing of shorts no matter what the Yorkshire weather brings, you can often hear his voice echoing “PROGRAMMES!” before you can see him.

However, a conversation with a member of staff from Leeds United revealed a vulnerable side that was far from the happy Barry everyone was used to seeing. After the COVID-19 pandemic, Barry like many has experienced loneliness and lived in isolation outside of his matchday duties with the Club. However, it was the Club he loves that came to his aid.

Football Club charities, such as Leeds United Foundation, have a plethora of provision to support their local community. FIT FANS is one of these programmes. FIT FANS aims to transform the lives of people aged 35-65, which is a time of life that people’s lifestyles naturally start to become less active. FIT FANS helps people like Barry change their eating and drinking habits, while losing weight and improving their health in a safe and sustainable way.

Having joined FIT LEEDS at his beloved Club, Barry lost 16kg over the course of the 3-months and his blood pressure dropped significantly. However, and perhaps more importantly, his well-known personality began to shine through as he encouraged and inspired other participants.

As a result of his participation in FIT LEEDS, Barry became involved in other activities to continue his positive change, both physically and mentally. He attended the Social Goals Group which supports participants to improve their mental wellbeing through engaging in conversations which, for most, revolve around their passion for Leeds United.

Barry’s weight loss and increased confidence has seen him find work as an Event Safety Steward again after a chance conversation with another employee of the Club.

Not only has his commitment to change been recognised externally but internally by the Club. He recently visited the Leeds United Training Ground and was presented a shirt by Liam Cooper and he now has a role with the Leeds United Foundation, driving the minibus to transport food hampers to families most in need during the school holidays.

The Foundation’s influence on him is so huge that as well as selling matchday programmes he also promotes the work of the charity to supporters, leading many of them to follow suit in joining and signing up to FIT FANS.