ROVERS manager Tony Mowbray, fans favourite David Dunn and chief executive Steve Waggott all observed Ramadhan by taking part in an 18-hour fast that has helped raise over £8,000 for the NHS.

The trio, as well as other members of the coaching staff and senior management team at Ewood Park, went without food or water from dawn until sunset on Wednesday as the club continues to strengthen its relationship with the town’s Muslim population.

The club joined thousands across East Lancashire, and millions across the world, in observing the fast and in doing so raised over £1,300 for the club’s charity partner, East Lancashire Hospitals Trust in their continued battle against COVID-19.

The initiative was the idea of business networking collective, the Saffron Group, whose members across the country and Greater Manchester raised a further £5,800 for NHS charities, with a further £1,300 added to the total thanks to the efforts of an individual in London.

Rovers’ involvement was another display of their #OneRoversTogether campaign launched last night month to help in the community’s battle with coronavirus.

Integration and Development Manager Yasir Sufi helped co-ordinate the club’s efforts, and said: “Having someone like Rovers on board, as soon as people saw that I started getting messages from people all over the UK and saying how amazing it was what the football club was doing.

“People in London were telling me how the message was being spread there, and what I know is that a lot of people signed up and took part because of the football club signing up.”

A video call was set up for the launch of the fast, known as the suhoor, at 3am, with chief executive Waggott and Dunn joined the iftaar at 9pm when the fast ended.

And Sufi admits the coronavirus lockdown has added a new perspective to their efforts during Ramadhan, which runs for 30 days.

“What we are going through at the moment, with people pulling together and the self-sacrifice that’s been made, it made a lot of sense to unite as a community,” he added.

“For some people it was not a religious fast, but whatever the reason for signing up, it was about bringing people together and it was something we could do and share together.

“Ordinarily we would invite people over to share it with us, but this time we had to do things a little differently.”

Saffron Group co-founder, Purves Ali said the efforts of the group were part of the continued charity efforts of Muslims which last year donated over £100m to charity.

And the club said: “Just as the current Coronavirus crisis has provided us all with the opportunity to reflect on the things we value and previously took for granted, Ramadhan teaches people to be more appreciative of what they have, whilst also cultivating mental toughness and self-control.

“Throughout this holy month, British Muslims will also give away a portion of their wealth in order to help those in need.

“Rovers have chosen to support one of the club’s official charity partners, East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, to show our appreciation to the frontline medical staff fighting the pandemic.”

Sufi was tasked with the remit of fostering better engagement between the club and Blackburn’s Asian community after taking on his new position in January.

The club have since held next generation days to encourage more BAME supporters to Ewood Park, with over 100 fans transported to February’s home game with Swansea City as part of an Ewood Express initiative.

Explaining how the idea came together, he said: “I’m part of a business network group called the Saffron Group which is made up over business people and groups from East Lancashire and Greater Manchester and is a diverse community of people.

“As soon as Ramadhan started, many people were intrigued and wanted to know more about it, so we thought what better than for them to celebrate and learn than to be involved in a fast.

“So we thought about the idea of doing it and at the same time raising money for the NHS.

“We came up with the idea 19 days ago and over time it has seen more people sign up, and officially, 166 people signed up, and raised over £8,000.”