When Millwall fan Jacqui Knight posted a video of Gambian schoolkids singing Let ‘Em Come on Facebook, she didn’t expect many people to take notice.

But within days, her video had been shared on Twitter and retweeted thousands of times.

“I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t even use Twitter,” the mum-of-two, originally from Penge, laughs.

The Gambian Lions, as Jacqui calls them, are a group of pupils at the Bijilo Lower Basic School who Jacqui, 50, met when she travelled to Bijilo for a friend’s wedding in May 2019.

“I went there last-minute and I had some redundant stock of about 40 T-shirts. I decided to pack them and hoped I’d find a school,” Jacqui explains.

By chance, Bijilo Lower Basic, which teaches pupils aged between five and 13, was directly across the road from her hotel, so Jacqui decided to visit and deliver the T shirts.

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Jacqui joined the pupils in class on her visit

“There was a teacher called Mr Bah who asked if I wanted to sit in on a lesson. The kids were learning about drugs and sexual diseases – it was a heavy-going lesson.”

At the end of the class, Jacqui stuck around to have a chat with the pupils – and of course the conversation turned to football.

“They all supported Manchester United or Liverpool, so I told them I supported the ‘biggest small club in the world’.

“I taught them a few Millwall songs and we had a lot of fun,” Jacqui recalls.

Jacqui has followed The Lions since her first husband, Richard Gardiner, a huge Millwall fan, died aged 31 in a work accident in 1995 – when their son Sam was just four years old.

“I got heavily involved in the club from then – I was a widow at 26. It’s a really sad story but supporting Millwall has been the highlight of my life.

“Sam had his Millwall programme on him all the time. I rang his dad’s friends and I took Sam down there with them.”

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Jacqui and her son Sam, now 28 years old

Three weeks after his sudden death, Jacqui scattered Richard’s ashes at The Den after liaising with the club.

“They were always really good to me and it really did help my son,” she explains.

“I watched my son grow up in football. I love it and I’ll always be Millwall.”

She has since remarried to her husband Max and has a young daughter, eight-year-old Sienna.

After her visit to Bijilo, Jacqui posted a video of the pupils singing on a Millwall supporters’ Facebook group and was showered with messages of support as the video was shared around social media – racking up a whopping 86,000 retweets on Twitter.

“It was so sweet to see how it touched people. I got a message from an 11-year-old Millwall fan who said he wanted to donate his shirt to the kids.”

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Jacqui with the headteacher of Bijilo Lower Basic School, Sainabou Sanneh

It was then that Jacqui realised how many people wanted to offer donations to Bijilo Lower Basic School – so she started to collect clothes, books and stationery for the pupils.

With a bit of help from Millwall FC its fans, Jacqui now has dozens of boxes in storage ready to be shipped to Bijilo.

Fellow fan Ayse Smith has also helped connect the school to iFollow, so they can watch Millwall matches live on their phones all the way in The Gambia.

Meanwhile, Jacqui keeps in touch with Mr Bah and the pupils via Whatsapp to practice songs.

Donations for the Gambian Lions are now so stacked up that Jacqui is crowdfunding to ship the pallets out to them.

“It’s been mad so now I’ve started this fundraiser. It has grown organically because of the generosity of our fans. I’m not a woman on a mission or a charity,” she says.

Ideally, Jacqui would like to raise enough money to go back to Bijilo herself and make a video diary of the trip as she delivers the donations to the pupils.

“It has just escalated. I feel like I owe it to the Millwall fans that have been generous enough and kind enough to donate.

“I want the fans to see the joy on the kids’ faces.”