From rural South Africa to White Hart Lane I’ve been working in some interesting places lately and I’m really excited to share with you our latest video – which stars top freestyle footballer Billy Wingrove!

Donate to the British Red Cross South Africa HIV fund

As the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, Billy’s been finding out about the bigger contest the country is facing – the challenge of dealing with HIV.Red Cross volunteer hugs a woman

Last month, I met some amazing people in KwaZulu-Natal, including Mertie Mberekwana. Although she is HIV positive, she is one of the bubbliest people I’ve met. She told me how scared she was when she first found out and got very sick. But once she started getting antiretroviral treatment her health improved dramatically.

Mertie said: “After I got better, I got a feeling that I have to go out there and help others as the Red Cross people helped me. It is now my passion in life.”

Now Mertie is a dedicated Red Cross volunteer. I spent an afternoon with her as she traipsed through the long grasses of Amahlongwa, carrying two heavy bags of food in the midday African sun.

She visited two people that afternoon, oBilly Wingrove holding football in a stadiumne was bedridden and one was deaf. Both of them are living with HIV and I could see how important Mertie was to them, not only for the food she brought but also her friendship.

The stigma of having HIV is a major factor in the spread of the disease. Fighting stigma and educating people about HIV is a major part of the Red Cross’ work.

I was so impressed with how the South African Red Cross is providing enormous support to people engaged in a daily struggle living with HIV.

Also while I was there, and despite not being a football fan, I couldn’t help but get infused with World Cup fever sweeping across the country. I think there may even be some soccer stars of the future honing their skills in the Red Cross football team!

Anyway, check out Billy Wingrove’s world-class tricks and don’t forget to pass it on.

© Image 1 Sarah Oughton/BRC

© Image 2 Ash Sweeting/BRC