Spoonews - Spring 2016 edition

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Olympic hopeful Burford aims to bloom in Brazil

Team GB’s Brown plots murderball comeback

Robshaw’s reinforcement World Cup skipper throws his weight behind hospice campaign

Join our club! Be part of our fun and passionate team As a member you will get: • Entry into exclusive draws to win rugby tournament tickets • A free Wooden Spoon gift • Two issues of our bi-annual magazine, Spoonews • Regular updates from the projects we are supporting and our beneficiaries All for just £4.00 per month. The funds you donate will help us make a vital difference to disadvantaged and disabled children across the UK & Ireland.

For more information:

e: membership@woodenspoon.com t: 01252 773720


HAVE YOUR SAY ON YOUR MAGAZINE... Here at Wooden Spoon we are always striving to improve our communications and provide information to our supporters in the best way for them. You may have noticed that we are updating Spoonews magazine, and we’d love to hear what you do and don’t like about it and also what you’d like to see more of in the future.



ELCOME to the latest edition of Spoonews, which arrives in the midst of an exciting Six Nations campaign. Wooden Spoon is proud of its rugby heritage, and the current tournament is no exception demonstrating core values of passion, integrity, teamwork and fun. These values drive everything we do, and we are delighted to share them with you – our dedicated supporters. Your continued help and commitment to changing the lives of disabled and disadvantaged children and young people meant last year we were able to fund 68 projects, making a difference to 20,000 children and their families in the UK and Ireland. Thanks to your ongoing support we are striving to make an even bigger difference in 2016, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you have done and everything you continue to do for our charity. We are celebrating a selection of stars in this edition; including the inspirational Fred and Vivian Morgan who – at the ages of 95 and 72 respectively – are

providing an independent school for bullied children and making an enormous difference to young people who are too depressed to attend their local state school (pages 30-31). We also catch up with Chris Henkey, the heroic British Airways pilot and Wooden Spoon supporter who orchestrated the safe evacuation of a Boeing 777 last year when it caught fire on the run way in Las Vegas (pages 20-21). And not forgetting our cover star Chris Robshaw and his backing of our campaign to support Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service – you can read about his time with Holly and her family on pages 24-25. The real stars are all the good people who help Wooden Spoon continue to transform lives through the projects we support – thank you, we could not do it without you.

John Gibson

John Gibson Chairman

Please provide your feedback via our very short online survey at www.bit. ly/yourspoonews As well as our bi-annual magazine, we send monthly updates via email to keep our supporters informed about the amazing projects we help and the fantastic fundraising taking place in your area. If you’d like to receive email updates and haven’t already provided us with your email address or recently changed your email, please send your details to charity@woodenspoon.com and we’ll update your records. We will never share your details with a third party and you can unsubscribe at any time. You can also keep in touch with all our latest news on social media. Find us via our Facebook page – facebook. com/WoodenSpoonCharity – and our Twitter profile, twitter.com/ CharitySpoon Our latest videos are available at youtube.com/user/WoodenSpoonTV, plus check out our photos on our new Instagram account instagram. com/charityspoon Thank you for you continued support. www.woodenspoon.org.uk

Spring 2016


“Chris's modesty may prevent him from accepting the acclaim he deserves for his actions, but there is no denying the huge impact he continues to have supporting Wooden Spoon." Barry Monahan – Page 20


Spring 2016



In this issue... 10

Kick-off 6

CLUBBING TOGETHER Golfers swing low to help drive fundraising


GIANT OF THE GAME Spoonews remembers All Black legend Jonah Lomu

10 IN THE FRAME Rugby royalty turn out to toast Wooden Spoon winners

12 ON TOUR Catch up with the latest news from the global game

13 NO DIVING Rugby Union rule change aims to stamp out simulation


All rights reserved.

Extra time


Funded projects



Rachael Burford shares her dream of blooming in Brazil

18 MISJUDGED Pudding pundit Gregg Wallace reveals his sweet side

20 THE RELUCTANT HERO High drama thrusts fundraiser into the limelight

Partnerships 22 THE PLACE TO BEE Delivery experts check out Northamptonshire's buzzing community hub

PUBLISHED BY TYLERBALE COMMUNICATIONS Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714 870 Fax: 0871 522 6565 Write: 10 Borelli Yard, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7NU


Chris Robshaw throws his weight behind hospice project


36 DAZZLING DISPLAY Junior players light up floodlit festival


Hampshire schoolchildren head outside


Top travel tips for your upcoming rugby tour


Team GB star shines spotlight on murderball's merits


David Trick raises a glass to charity's celebrity supporters


Senior citizens honoured for saving lives of bullied teens

How you can make a difference with Wooden Spoon


ON THE COVER Harlequins star Chris Robshaw made a surprise visit to the home of rugby fan Holly George, who is campaigning to raise funds for the building of a Berkshire hospice.

Kitchen caters for kids at Berkshire-based retreat

WOODEN SPOON – THE CHILDREN’S CHARITY OF RUGBY Email: charity@woodenspoon.com Tel: 01252 773 720 Fax: 01252 773 721 Write: 115—117 Fleet Road, Fleet, Hampshire GU51 3PD Contact details for our regions can be found online at www.woodenspoon.org.uk/our-regions

Content © Wooden Spoon 2016. Wooden Spoon is registered in England. Registered address: 115-117 Fleet Road, Fleet, Hampshire GU51 3PD. Charity Registration No 326691 (England & Wales) and SC039247 (Scotland).

Spring 2016


Clubbing together Golfers ‘swing low’ to support the children’s charity of rugby

ISLAND VISIT FOR IRELAND LEGEND THE fourth most-capped player in world rugby helped to ensure Wooden Spoon Guernsey’s recent Legends’ Dinner was a huge success. Former Ireland skipper Ronan O’Gara was guest of honour at the black tie event and shared stories of his international career and trophy-laden tenure with Munster during a lively question and answer session. The event, the third of its kind hosted by Wooden Spoon Guernsey, was attended by 280 guests and raised more than £10,000.


OODEN Spoon’s roots may lie in rugby but it is another sport driving efforts to fund life-changing projects for disabled and disadvantaged children. Last year alone, golf days hosted by the charity’s network of regions across the UK and Ireland raised almost £250,000 – accounting for nearly a quarter of its total income. The sport’s ability to hole Wooden Spoon a significant wedge was demonstrated across 26 golfing events, with Shropshire Golf Centre among the venues swinging into action. As a long-standing supporter of the charity, Vicki Hughes used her tenure as ladies captain of the West Midlands club to round up £3,000 for her favourite cause. Members of Wooden Spoon Shropshire, Vicki and husband David also convinced the Muxton

centre’s coaches, Mark and Lisa Shervill, to give golf lessons to children with learning difficulties – an initiative set to continue this spring. Par for the course, golf will again be a dominant force throughout 2016 with a host of the charity’s regions having already announced details of their respective fundraising drives. Wooden Spoon Ulster, for example, is now taking bookings for its tournament at Ballyliffin Old Course in County Donegal on 23 July. Former Ireland international and British and Irish Lions lock Willie John McBride will present the day’s prizes with comedian Gene Fitzpatrick providing the post-round entertainment. Entry is priced at £100 per person and can be booked via Graham Hunter on 02871 398801. For a full list of golf days and to find an event in your area, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/challenges

FIT FUNDRAISERS FITNESS enthusiasts in the South West pushed themselves to the limit to raise more than £4,000 for Wooden Spoon. 1610, which runs 19 leisure centres in the region, organised a series of triathlons and 10k races, as well as several sponsored events such as superhero sports days, water bingo and rugby tournaments. Tim Nightingale, CEO of 1610, said: “Wooden Spoon is a wonderful charity which has helped so many young people with valuable community projects and it uses the power and values of sport to transform their lives. “These values reflect those of 1610, which helps to transform lives through health.”


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Recruiters coast through challenges WITH a target of raising £10,000 on its 10th anniversary, TXM Recruit completed an arduous series of challenges in support of Wooden Spoon last year. Staff from the recruitment consultancy pedalled, swung and swam in the name of charity and began their fundraising endeavours with a coast-to-coast cycle ride. James Poulton, Andrew Jarman, Paul Turney, Ian Tompsett,

Craig Pledge, Gavin Hanrahan and Brian Cook took to the saddle and covered the 140 miles from Whitehaven to Newcastle in just two days.

Four rounds of golf in one day followed, during which the fundraisers were joined at East Herts Golf Club by ex-England stars Tim Stimpson and Jason Robinson. TXM Recruit Managing Director Andrew Midgley and team leader Adam Knight completed the hattrick of challenges by swimming 22 miles – the equivalent of a Channel crossing – over the course of six weeks. woodenspoon.org.uk


10ks raise 5k

Sporting superstar: Sevens supremo Jonah Lomu takes time to pose with Wooden Spoon supporters during a fundraising dinner in Wales

Giant of the game

Spoonews remembers All Black winger and legend Jonah Lomu


F A person’s legacy can be gauged by the thoughts of those they leave behind, the impact of Jonah Lomu will resonate for generations to come. Legend of the game. A fabulous human being. Superstar. Gentleman. Inspiration. Hero. From former teammates to one-time rivals; politicians to pop stars; amateur players to armchair fans, people across the globe remembered the New Zealand legend with warmth following his untimely death last November. Although his playing career was cut short by the debilitating kidney condition which ultimately claimed his life at the age of just 40, Jonah remained a much-loved figure on the rugby circuit and Wooden Spoon Huw was lucky enough to count the worldfamous winger as a supporter at a number of events. During a busy tour of the UK before and during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Jonah attended a host of Wooden Spoon fundraisers, including one attended by the charity’s Wales Chairman Huw Thomas who recalled the Kiwi’s willingness to put others ahead of himself. “What struck you first was his brutal honesty in answering some very sensitive questions about his private life,” explained Huw. “When I asked him after the event to sign a Wooden Spoon yearbook, he

offered to sign four. When we asked nervously for a photograph with the great man, knowing we were involved with Wooden Spoon he suggested going on to the stage, despite being tired after a long journey and a gruelling tour of the UK. “The word ‘legend’ is sometimes overused, but in this case it’s an understatement.” Jonah’s commitment to Wooden Spoon in 2015 included appearances at an evening event in Newcastle, a dinner in Reading and a World Cup preview night in Cwmbran. The fundraiser in Wales alone helped Wooden Spoon generate more than £1,600. The humble nature that charmed Thomas all who met Jonah Lomu is perhaps most admirable given his stature in the game. He burst onto the scene in 1994 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, but it was his scintillating performances in the following year’s Rugby World Cup that left an indelible mark in the memories of an entire generation. The wide man’s all-action style combined electric pace, silky skill and a frightening amount of raw power which proved too much for even the most astute defences. His one-man demolition job on England in the 1995 semi-final is still spoken about as one of the greatest performances of all time.

“The word ‘legend’ is sometimes overused, but in this case it’s an understatement.”

STAFF from a Scottish commercial property consultancy took a break from leasing legislation to lace up for Wooden Spoon last year. Employees from FG Burnett raised more than £5,000 for the charity by completing a series of running events, climaxing with the Aviemore 10k. The race, which took place along forest tracks, paths and roads in the shadows of the Cairngorm mountains, was completed by director David MacLeod and colleagues Christopher Yannaghas and Derek Richardson. Reflecting on FG Burnett’s performance at Aviemore and in the earlier Baker Hughes 10k and Beast Race (pictured above and below), David said: “We were lucky enough to have good weather. “It was challenging running a new course, but Christopher did brilliantly, knocking six minutes off his time achieved at the Baker Hughes 10K. “It was a huge achievement for all three of us to take FG Burnett over the finish line and be part of surpassing a £5,000 target for Wooden Spoon. Everyone has worked so hard and this is a testament to our hard work.”

Spring 2016


Save the date See you at The Rugby Ball! Friday 3rd February 2017 Hilton Park Lane, London

For more information:

e: events@woodenspoon.com t: 01252 773720



Close ties: Wooden Spoon Worcestershire is building business relationships and membership through its First Thursday Club

Social network

Business group boosts Wooden Spoon’s public profile


FLOURISHING business networking the majority of speakers choosing to sing the group is helping to spread the praises of Wooden Spoon rather than promote Wooden Spoon message throughout their own brands. Worcestershire. She added: “The sponsor gets to put their Organised by Worcester committee member branding up at the event and we give them Lauren Tunnicliffe, the flourishing First Thursday two-to-five minutes to give a speech, but what’s Club invites businessmen and women to gather really nice is that in most cases they choose to once each month to network, socialise and hear talk about why they support Wooden Spoon about the charity’s work. and what it means to them rather than talking Lauren attracts a corporate sponsor for each about their business.” meeting and while the sessions are free to Because those present are not required to attend, visitors are encouraged pay for the evening, an increasing to sign up as Wooden Spoon number of attendees are showing members. their gratitude by becoming She explained: “We were Wooden Spoon members. looking for a way to bring Lauren explained that in in more members. We addition to providing a cash only tended to do the big boost to the charity, the new fundraising events and we members are in turn helping wanted to find a way to get to promote greater awareness Lauren people involved on a monthly of Wooden Spoon around the Tunnicliffe basis so that we could slowly build county. up the membership figures. She said: “As more and more people sign “I used to run a networking group through up, there are more and more members turning Sanlam UK, the business I work for, so this idea up in their ties and that keeps raising awareness came out of that experience.” of Wooden Spoon. We are seeing around 10 The networking club meets at 6pm on the first new members signing up at each event. Thursday of each month, with the corporate “We also bring along the organisations we are sponsor paying for drinks and the venue supporting so that the members can see how providing snacks for guests. their money is being spent. I think the group In exchange for their financial support, the is a great way to get more people involved in main sponsor is given a slot in which to give a Wooden Spoon and it is helping us to integrate speech and Lauren has been delighted to see the business community into the charity.”

“The group is a great way to get more people involved in Wooden Spoon.”

RUGBY clubs can do their bit for disadvantaged children and benefit from Wooden Spoon’s recognised branding by signing up for the charity’s Partner Club Programme. Under the scheme, clubs from across the UK and Ireland can support Wooden Spoon by organising fundraising events while simultaneously drawing on the organisation’s celebrity contacts, marketing power and range of resources. Dartford Valley RFC were one of the first clubs to join and have already begun reaping the rewards, according to Wooden Spoon’s Rugby Manager Matt Mitchell. He told Spoonews: “They are only a small club and that’s important because the programme is for any club, large or small. “By signing up, they are able to do something good for Wooden Spoon and give back to the rugby community – but it’s not a one-way process. “Wooden Spoon is a charity which has many connections and is a recognised brand in the rugby world. “By becoming part of the programme, clubs can access that brand and tap into the exposure that it brings.” Dartford Valley RFC soon began to see the benefits of being part of the programme after receiving a signed England rugby shirt from Wooden Spoon which was auctioned off, raising hundreds of pounds. Partner clubs receive annual support in all their charitable activities from Wooden Spoon’s professional team, which has experience in events, corporate fundraising and individual giving. With links to more than 9,000 supporters, clubs benefit from Wooden Spoon’s network and support of projects and events. In exchange, partner clubs donate a percentage of their annual fundraising income to Wooden Spoon, which gets distributed to local projects supporting disadvantaged and disabled children. Matt is now encouraging more clubs to follow in Dartford’s footsteps and get involved in the programme. He said: “Becoming part of the programme brings value to your existing fundraising activities and allows you to support a very worthy cause which is helping disabled and disadvantaged children across the UK and Ireland.” To find out more about the programme, visit www.woodenspoon.org.uk/partnerclub

Spring 2016


Clockwise from top left: Wooden Spoon’s Arctic adventurers receive their official Guinness World Record certificate; ex-British Lion and World Cup winner Jason Robinson was joined at The Rugby Ball by partner Sian; former England captain Martin Johnson was among those quizzed by John Inverdale; and lead ambassador Phil Vickery took to the microphone to remind those in attendance of the “amazing impact the game of rugby can have in changing young people’s lives”

Fundraisers in the frame

Rugby royalty turn out in their numbers to toast Wooden Spoon’s inaugural award winners


ECORD breakers, world champions and star supporters were among the guests at Wooden Spoon’s annual flagship fundraiser late last year. Held at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, the Rugby Ball celebrated a fantastic 12 months for the charity, during which it funded 68 new projects – making a difference to more than


Spring 2016

20,000 disabled and disadvantaged children in the UK – and entered the history books by arranging the northernmost game of rugby. Among those to take to the stage at the event were the winners of the inaugural Wooden Spoon Awards, which were judged by a panel of ambassadors, supporters and trustees. Howard Roper, who completed his 18th year

as Regional Chairman of Wooden Spoon North East Scotland in 2015, was named Player of the Year. Described as an “advocate and ambassador” who embraces all of the charity’s values, Howard’s commitment to fundraising has contributed to the building of a £15,000 wet room for Tayside Children with Cancer and woodenspoon.org.uk

KICK-OFF Clockwise from top left: TV presenter John Inverdale hosted a special edition of Mastermind; former England international and Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Maggie Alphonsi was among the star names to sit in the famous black chair; Wooden Spoon’s Player of the Year Howard Roper receives his award from former England skipper Catherine Spencer; England Sevens star-turned-Guinness World Record holder Ollie Phillips

Leukaemia and a £7,500 grant for the Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Rugby team. Howard, who has climbed Snowdon, Helvellyn, Ben Nevis and Carantouhill 20 times in the name of Wooden Spoon, was presented with his accolade by former England captain Catherine Spencer. Wooden Spoon Shropshire’s committee scooped the Team of the Year award for their hard work in staging the Wooden Spoon International Tag Rugby Festival for young people with a learning disability. The tournament – the largest of its kind in the country – saw hundreds

of players take to the pitch at the home of the Telford Hornets. Judith Phelps, Jane Dobbs and Glyn Dobbs collected their award from Martin Cross of Engage Sports Media. The 11 intrepid fundraisers who trekked for more than 100 kilometres in sub-zero conditions to take part in the Wooden Spoon Arctic Rugby Challenge at the Magnetic North Pole last April received a special judges’ commendation. Sponsors and expedition members David Mercer, CEO of LMAX Exchange, and James Harding, director at Quilter Cheviot, collected the award on behalf of the group, which raised

£150,000 and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Entertainment on the evening included a special edition of Mastermind, which was hosted by John Inverdale and saw a selection of World Cup winners quizzed on their chosen specialist subjects. ➤ Wooden Spoon would like to extend its thanks to the World Cup table takers, EY, HAE, O2, Rickety Bridge, Worcester Warriors and Charlotte Ricard for their support of the Rugby Ball in 2015. Spring 2016


CANADIAN CASH THE British Columbian Government has committed more than £40,000 of funding in support of this summer’s Canada Cup international wheelchair rugby tournament. Due to take place at the Richmond Olympic Oval from 24-26 June, the biennial event is widely considered the third most prestigious competition after the Paralympic Games and World Championships.

YOUR PASSPORT TO THE GLOBAL GAME’S HARDHITTING HEADLINES... LAST-CHANCE SALOON WORLD Rugby has handed Ireland’s women home advantage for the last qualification tournament ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games. The UCD Bowl in Dublin will play host to the women’s Sevens repechage on 25-26 June, an event which will see 16 teams battle to fill the final place on Rio’s rugby roster. Ireland will compete against Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Samoa, Cook Islands, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong and China. The men’s repechage will take place in Monaco on 18-19 June.

IMAGE INCENTIVE ADDITIONAL revenue from image rights is to be distributed to all rugby professionals in South Africa in a bid to slow the player drain from the country’s domestic game. Responding to a number of top Springbok stars heading to Europe and Japan, the South African Rugby Union has announced an additional 65 million rand will be distributed among locallybased players each year.

MASTERFUL PERFORMANCE JAPAN’S talismanic Rugby Union star Ayumu Goromaru has cemented his hero status by becoming a Master of Ninjas. The fullback, who played a key role in the Brave Blossoms’ three wins during the 2015 World Cup, was awarded the honour by the Japan Ninja Council because his kicking pose – knees bent and hands clasped together with index fingers pointing skywards – evoked images of the ancient stealth warriors.

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENT FIJI Rugby Union has suggested it will launch its own Sevens series as soon as 2017 in a bid to preserve the star status of its senior team. Vodafone Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan is working on a project that will bring together the islands’ existing tournaments, such as Coral Coast, Marist and Nawaka, and be used by selectors to pick training squads.

SINGAPORE SLING TWENTY one of Singapore’s national players have surpassed the world record for the most rugby passes in one hour. The Singaporeans completed 4,002 ball exchanges in the allotted time, smashing the previous tally of 2,336 set by Maccabi GB’s Junior Rugby squad in 2013. Rules laid out by Guinness World Records required the players to stand at least 4.6 metres apart, not to drop the ball during the entire hour and for every pass to be in accordance with Rugby Union rules. The record-breaking attempt was part of a day-long carnival to drum up support ahead of Singapore hosting the eighth leg of the World Rugby Sevens series on 16-17 April. 12

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BROADCAST BONANZA THE Australian Rugby Union has secured a huge hike in its share of broadcasting rights for Super Rugby fixtures and international matches. Under the terms of a new five-year agreement, the governing body will receive A$285 million – a 148 per cent increase on revenue achieved through previous media deals. The sum, however, is dwarfed by the broadcast fees commanded by Australia’s National Rugby League (A$1.8 billion over five years) and the Australian Football League, which recently sealed an A$2.508 billion, six-year deal that kicks off next summer. woodenspoon.org.uk


Show simulation the red card

Rugby Union’s new ‘no diving’ policy will help preserve gentlemanly conduct


HISPER it quietly, but rugby’s muchvaunted boast to be a “hooligans’ game played by gentlemen” may not be as cast-iron a claim as previously believed. That is certainly the view of the sport’s authorities, which – as evidenced by the latest round of minor law amendments approved by the World Rugby Council – clearly have concerns over the corrosion of the code’s character. As part of the regulation changes, which came into effect in the southern hemisphere at the start of the year and will be introduced to the northern hemisphere rule book on 1 July, referees are being given the power to punish those they suspect of diving or feigning injury with a penalty kick. In a statement announcing the crackdown on Hollywood-style antics, World Rugby commented: “Play acting or ‘simulation’ will be specifically outlawed in the game in a move that formalises resistance to a practice that has been creeping into the game in recent years. “Any player who dives or feigns injury in an effort to influence the match officials will be liable for sanction. Previously, such offences were covered under the laws covering general acts contrary to good sportsmanship.” The new directive, which falls under the existing “unfair play” rule, states: “A player must not commit any act that may lead the match officials to consider that that player was subject to foul play or any other type of infringement committed by an opponent. Sanction: Penalty kick.” The introduction of this official “no diving” policy follows the stinging words of World Rugby’s match officials selection committee chairman John Jeffrey.

“There is a culture creeping in – I call it the football culture – of simulation; people appealing to the referee, players – and it has happened a couple of times – diving.” John Jeffrey

On the eve of last summer’s World Cup, the former Scotland flanker was widely quoted in the press as saying: “There is a culture creeping in – I call it the football culture – of simulation; people appealing to the referee, players – and it has happened a couple of times – diving.” Ironically, it was a Scotsman who went on to demonstrate the bad behaviour flagged by “The Great White Shark”. During Scotland’s World Cup showdown with South Africa at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, Stuart Hogg took a theatrical tumble. However, rather than gaining an advantage through his amateur dramatics, the fullback was left suitably red-faced by referee Nigel Owens’ witty rebuke. “There was nothing wrong with [the tackle],” the Wooden Spoon supporter scolded. “If you want to dive like that again, come back here in two weeks and play, not today. Watch it.” While Hogg is not the only member of the sport’s cast to have displayed Academy Award aspirations, the response of Owens and the recent rule change has reassured Spoonews that rugby is not ready to see its reputation for sportsmanship rust away. Rugby’s not perfect, but cheating is being restricted to cameo performances – such as the dive by South Africa and Toulon wing Bryan Habana against Saracens in the Heineken Cup final in 2014 and Toulouse player Yoann Huget’s feigned injury against Bath in the European Champions Cup last year. Consequently, the code continues to provide a contrast to the character traits of top-flight football, where a win-at-all-costs attitude coupled with the huge financial ramifications resting on results has seen simulation become commonplace. Spring 2016


Prized Rose dreams of blooming in Brazil World Cup winner Rachael Burford talks exclusively to Spoonews about her aim to add Rio to her already colourful resume


T the age of 29, Rachael Burford may be edging towards the autumn of her playing career but the Red Rose is far from finished flowering on the international stage. Having already plucked a World Cup winners’ medal for her sporting bouquet, England Women’s 2014 player of the year is focused on reaping further rewards in Rio this summer when Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic debut. The Wooden Spoon ambassador was part of the England team that sealed Great Britain’s qualification for the tournament and is now vying to be named in the 14-strong squad for Brazil. “Nothing can compare to competing at an Olympic Games because as rugby players we’ve never experienced it,” Rachael told Spoonews. “To be part of an Olympics, to stay in an Olympic village and be around all the other athletes, and to be part of Team GB is something I never dreamed of. “Everyone watches the Olympics and everyone gets behind it in some shape or form and now we’re going to be part of it. People will watch us on TV and see that women do play rugby and the sport will grow as a consequence – it is so exciting.

ON RIO 2016: “To be part of Team GB is something I never dreamed of.”


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“The next few months will be a nervous time but we really can’t wait.” OLYMPIAN IN WAITING The Thurrock centre – one of 12 of England’s 2014 World Cup-winning squad handed a full-time Sevens contract by the Rugby Football Union ahead of the Olympics – will learn whether she is Copacabana Beachbound when Simon Middleton’s final squad is announced in July. Whoever is picked for action in Rio’s Deodoro Stadium faces a tough challenge though, with New Zealand overwhelming favourites for gold having won all three of the Women’s World Sevens series titles since the championships were launched in 2012. Not that falling short of a podium finish as an Olympian would detract from the significant successes already enjoyed by Rachael since she began playing rugby as a six-year-old. GLOBAL GRATIFICATION Her career to date has spanned two Sevens World Cups, 56 international caps and three 15-a-side World Cups, the last of which saw England end a run of three successive final defeats and finally land the silverware with a 21-9 win over Canada in Paris. “The World Cup win has to be the highlight,” she said. “I had been to the two previous tournaments and just missed out. To go that one step further and to have my family there to share it was incredible. “There were a few wobbly moments when the scoreboard was close but there was a focus [about England]. “Even when it went to 11-9 [midway

ON PARIS 2014: “To go that one step further and to have my family there to share it was incredible.” through the second half] nobody panicked and everyone was calm – we just knew that if we stuck to our processes then we would win that game. “The big thing for us was not to focus on it being a World Cup final but just 80 minutes to win a game and that is the mentality that we stuck to.” Rachael, who has skippered the England Sevens team, added: “The first moment I allowed myself to think ‘we’ve got this’ was probably when we scored our last try with about three minutes left. Canada could have come back to win but it would have been a big ask. “It only really began to sink in though when the final whistle went and then it was a case of tears, laughter and every emotion you can think of.” While the immediate legacy of the World



Spring 2016


A postcard from...

R IO Cup win was an England player of the year award for Wooden Spoon’s leading lady and a BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year accolade for the Red Roses, the professional era for women’s rugby heralded by the victory is set to deliver long-term dividends. “It is brilliant that women’s sport in general is being professionalised and that rugby is part of that,” Rachael said. “Hopefully over the next few years it will breed more success. “Young girls can now aim to be a world champion and know there is a possibility that they can work towards that goal full-time. Rugby can be a career now.” Being paid to play may have come late in respect of her own career, but Rachael is focused on enjoying the experience rather than ruing years spent having to juggle a job with training commitments. And the first female professional on the Rugby Players’ Association players’ board believes the real value of having a contract is the free time – and not the boost to an individual’s bank balance – it provides. “Even now, if I wasn’t professional, I’d still want to be part of the sport and playing it,” she said. “The fact that we are professional is brilliant and we should be because we dedicate our lives to rugby, but it has never been about the money. “It has been about the people round us, pulling on the shirt and representing our


Spring 2016

ON TURNING PRO: “I have evenings to relax, regenerate and go again harder the next day.” friends, family and teammates on the pitch. “It [being amateur] wasn’t hard in terms of training because we knew we had to do it to try to be the best in the world. The hardest part was never really having a balance – you were either working or training and didn’t get the opportunity to rest. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed [since turning professional] is I have evenings and weekends to relax, regenerate and go again harder and better the next day. “The squad actually has time to see friends and family and does not always have to say no to social events. That is pretty cool – we actually get to have a break from rugby.” Rachael’s loved ones are not the only benefactors of her now more regular recesses from rugby. The player has already demonstrated she is happy to dedicate a share of her new-found downtime to Wooden Spoon

(see page 27), which she has supported since first pulling on a Wooden Spoon jersey nearly a decade ago. Speaking about her introduction and continued commitment to the children’s charity of rugby, the Rio hopeful said: “It was great – we got to play the sport we loved while raising money for a good cause. The opportunities Wooden Spoon gives young people are inspiring and I know what sport can do for everyone. Being part of that is brilliant.” England fans, however, should not worry that this popular perennial Rose has grown too accustomed to periods of rest and relaxation and is rightly thorny about the prospect of retirement. If not given the chance to make Rio grand with her vibrant displays, Rachael has every intention of blooming again. “Straight after the Olympics, we will be in a World Cup cycle again and playing in Ireland in 2017 is a possibility,” she concluded. “I would love to go to another World Cup and go for a back-to-back win. “That would be phenomenal.” woodenspoon.org.uk


TEAM GB’S ROAD TO RIO England women sealed Great Britain’s qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games last May by beating USA 15-14 in the World Sevens Series in Amsterdam. Having lost in the tournament’s semi-finals, the third place playoff match was a straight fight for the fourth Rio qualifying berth, behind Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Earlier in the competition, England defeated World Sevens Series Champions New Zealand 17-14 to keep Rio within reach (see full results below). Laurie Harries and Jasmine Joyce from Wales and Stephanie Johnston and Megan Gaffney from Scotland have since joined England’s squad of 19 full-time professionals as preparations for Brazil pick up pace. POOL MATCHES England 56 China 0 England 40 Russia 5 Australia 24 England 7 QUARTER-FINAL England 17 New Zealand 14 SEMI-FINAL Australia 26 England 0 THIRD PLACE MATCH England 15 USA 14

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Misjudged Pudding pundit Gregg Wallace reveals the ‘sweet’ side of his off-screen persona to Spoonews


AVING forged a reputation for not holding his counsel when it comes to dishing out culinary criticism, Gregg Wallace is suitably stinging in his assessment of England’s poor showing at last summer’s Rugby World Cup. “That has got to be the worst performing pack of forwards I have ever seen wear the white jersey,” lambasted the Masterchef presenter when prompted by Spoonews to offer his opinion on the hosts’ early tournament exit. “It was embarrassing – a disgrace actually.” INTERNATIONAL IRE Delivering an acid-tongued analysis usually reserved for cutting down would-be chefs in the kitchen, the celebrity Wasps fan continued: “Before the World Cup we couldn’t secure our own line-out ball and the scrum was going backwards, but nothing was done. “People around me were saying ‘it’s alright, they [the coaching team] will sort it out by the time the tournament kicks off’ but they didn’t; it just got worse. “We’ve got the manpower, we’ve got the talent – you can see it in the Premiership – and we’ve got the resources. There is no reason why England should not be one of the best teams in the world,” added Gregg, who has two Rugby Union coaching badges to his name. “Although the new management team won’t get everything right in one 6 Nations campaign, let’s see what happens over a couple. “If it fails then we should have a public inquiry of the RFU. They are taking a lot for granted. Us


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fans are loyally turning up and spending a lot of money at Twickenham and I really don’t see why we should not be served up better rugby than we are.” Gregg may have been left simmering by an off-the-boil England, but his panning of recent performances is at odds with his otherwise generous character. Despite the significant demands placed on his diary by television projects, the former wholesaler is more than happy to trade what free time he does have to support Wooden Spoon. The Eat Well for Less star has been a member of the charity’s “Scrum Dine With Me” judging panel for the past three years, but modestly dismisses his on-going commitment to the popular fundraising competition as an example of one good turn deserving another.

where the media wouldn’t be able to get to me. “We weren’t friends at the time, just associates through Celebrity Masterchef, and I remember thinking ‘my word, no wonder you were an England captain’. “Phil told me the reason he rang was because of an experience he had while playing for the [British and Irish] Lions. “After most matches he was used to getting lots of phone calls, texts and emails from people but after this one ‘terrible’ game in which he had been pushed back in the scrum, he returned to the dressing room to find that nobody – apart from his mum – had bothered to leave him a message. “He promised himself after that that if ever there was anyone he knew who needed a bit of help, he’d be the first on the phone. What an incredible man and wonderful thing to do. “I had to decline the offer because I had too much work to do but I was so touched by his actions that when he asked me a month or so later if I could come along and support Wooden Spoon, I was pleased to be able to help him as well as the charity.” Gregg insists his affection for Wooden Spoon has since grown far beyond being just a favour for a friend, with the charity’s stirring support of community projects and strong links with rugby cementing the partnership. And the 51-year-old’s media career is testament to the fact that chance beginnings can lead to enduring relationships. “If you make a study of it, you realise there is nobody on television who is actually meant to be there,” said Gregg, whose success

LION’S LEGACY While delighted to be associated with the children’s charity of rugby, Gregg explained the catalyst to his involvement was an act of kindness performed by Wooden Spoon ambassador and 2011 Celebrity Masterchef champion Phil Vickery. “I’ve got such a fondness for Phil that I was just happy to be able to help when he asked me about ‘Scrum Dine With Me’ and I’ll tell you why,” the father-of-two said. “When my divorce hit the newspapers a few years back, Phil phoned and asked me if I wanted to come down to Gloucestershire to drink some beer, throw a rugby ball about and spend some time with him and some pals Picture: www.jamiehughesphotography.com woodenspoon.org.uk

FEATURE at running a multi-million-pound fruit and vegetable business responsible for stocking some of London’s top restaurants helped to catch the eye of producers. “Everybody is there by accident. You can’t go to telly school, you just meet someone one day who suggests a project and the next thing you know you have begun a television career.” PACKED PROGRAMME As accidental second careers go, broadcasting has been a busy one for the businessman-turnedpresenter, who can count star turns on Turn back Time, Supermarket Secrets, Who Do You Think You Are? and Strictly Come Dancing among his small-screen credits. His television profile has often led to unwanted attention from newspapers and social media swipes querying his culinary credentials, but 12 years as a judge in the heat of the Masterchef kitchen have done little to hamper Gregg’s appetite for the hit show and industry as a whole. “I’m often asked how I can be a judge on Masterchef when I’m not a chef, which I find quite incredible,” the author of multiple cookbooks told Spoonews. “Nobody ever criticises restaurant critics for not being chefs, art critics for not being painters or suggests that film critics should make movies. “The fact is my early working life was spent sat down with chefs or on the phone to kitchens, working round their menus and advising what food was coming into season. “I’ve been mixing with the Roux family, Jamie [Oliver], Gordon [Ramsay] and John Torode for years and years. All of my life has been in and around food. “I love doing Masterchef, I absolutely love it,” he concluded. “It doesn’t feel like work to me so I will be staying on people’s sets for the time being.”

“There is nobody on television who is actually meant to be there. Everybody is there by accident. You can’t go to telly school.” Spring 2016


Picture: INS


Spring 2016



The reluctant hero Down-to-earth fundraiser thrust into limelight by act of high-octane heroism


EW people will ever have their mettle and modesty tested to the extent experienced by Wooden Spoon supporter Chris Henkey last year. On 8 September, the jet he was captaining on a return flight from Las Vegas to London burst into flames seconds before take-off. Fortunately for those on-board, the British Airways pilot passed this extreme examination of his aviation skills with flying colours. With the aircraft travelling between 40 and 100mph along the runway and flames engulfing one of its engines, Chris slammed down the brakes and orchestrated the safe evacuation of all 157 passengers and 13 crew via emergency slides. In an audio recording of the incident, the highly-experienced pilot can be heard calmly relaying the unfolding drama to air traffic controllers. “Mayday, mayday, Speedbird 2276 request fire services,” he said, before 40 seconds later adding “we are evacuating on the runway”. “We have a fire. I repeat, we are evacuating.” Chris’s actions and composure in the cockpit of the Boeing 777-200 saw him hailed a hero by passengers for averting a potential disaster. Although the warmth shown by those on the flight was welcome, the ardent rugby fan confessed to Spoonews that “hero” is not a label he wears comfortably. MODEST MEMORIES “It was a bit unfortunate that the press made this sort of hero thing out of it,” he said. “There were 12 other people – two co-pilots and 10 cabin crew – who all did their bit. It [the safe evacuation of everyone on-board] was a team effort.” Recalling the dramatic events of what should have been his second-to-last flight ahead of retirement, the 63-yearold added: “It all happened very quickly. “There was sort of a bang and the aircraft veered to the left and that was it really – we just had to deal with it. “It was four minutes of chaos. There was a hell of a lot going on. The procedures we train for do kick in, although you can never fully train for an incident like that.

“There were 12 other people – two pilots and 10 cabin crew – who all did their bit.” “In a simulator you can go through engine shut downs and engine fires but that is just with two of you [pilot and co-pilot] and a training captain there. “To have it happen in real life and with that amount of fire was very difficult. “I’d had a couple of tyres burst on landing before but had not experienced anything like it in 43 years of flying. It came as a shock.” And so did the media attention that followed. Rather than a final flight at the controls to Barbados, the reluctant hero’s retirement began firmly in the limelight with a succession of newspaper, radio and television interviews. MEDIA SCRUM The Berkshire resident, who has since been presented with a Pride of Reading Local Hero award, admitted to being surprised by the response. “On the Wednesday it happened, my other half got back home from work and there were about 30 people with cameras outside,” he said. “It was astonishing really.” Chris, who had been targeting time walking

“It was four minutes of chaos. You can never fully train for an incident like that.”

and practising his putting, added: “I’d like to start golf again but have not had the chance to get to the driving range. “It’s been quite busy with the media stuff and I attended most of the Rugby World Cup matches, but it has started to quieten down now thankfully.” While the humble aviator may have hung up his British Airways blazer, he has no intention of mothballing his Wooden Spoon jacket and tie. Indeed, Chris used the media scrum stirred up by his act of Vegas valour to further his support of the children’s charity of rugby; sharing fees paid for interviews with his favourite cause. CHARITY DRIVE A member of the Wooden Spoon Chilterns committee, Chris’s association with the charity began as a consequence of its links with rugby and in his local pub – the Hatch Gate Inn in Burghfield – nearly two decades ago. “The landlord at the time was a keen supporter and I began getting involved then and used to go on the annual boat trip at Christmas,” he said. “I subsequently took over the pub and as soon as someone new came along we would encourage them to join the charity. We used to hold race nights and raffles and always had a collection box on the bar.” Speaking of the motivation for his enduring support, Chris added: “It is about the good work Wooden Spoon does rather than the rugby now. That is what encourages me to keep going.” Commending the grounded nature of the former high-flier, Wooden Spoon’s Chief Operating Officer Barry Monahan concluded: “We are delighted we are able to name Chris Henkey as one of our long-serving supporters. His modesty may prevent him from accepting the acclaim he deserves for his actions last autumn, but there is no denying the huge impact he continues to have supporting Wooden Spoon. His hard work and commitment to fundraising helps us to improve the lives of disabled and disadvantaged children – supporters like Chris are heroes in our eyes.” ➤ For more information on our regions, visit www.woodenspoon. org.uk/our-regions Spring 2016


“I love the way the community works hand-in-hand with the children here. For me, it’s that special ingredient which makes this place work, along with Shez’s incredible passion and the students’ enthusiasm.” Dave Bone, TNT


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The place to Bee

TNT joins Wooden Spoon to check out buzzing community hub


TAFF from Wooden Spoon fundraising partner TNT flew into a Northamptonshire school to take a first-hand look at a buzzing community hub they helped to create. Dave Bone and Charles Lamoin, from TNT’s Wellingborough depot, were joined by the company’s Managing Director Marianne Culver for a tour of The Bee Hive, which is part of Northgate School Arts College. The guests got to see a host of the centre’s impressive facilities, including a shop, cafe and gym, which were funded in part by more than £11,000 raised by the company for Wooden Spoon. The visit was organised as part of TNT’s 70th anniversary “Seeing is Believing” project, through which staff are attending a number of the charitable projects the express delivery company has supported. Marianne explained: “These visits allow our employees to see for themselves how they really make a difference through their fundraising. “It was fantastic to see the students enjoying the gym that we’ve helped to kit out through our 20-year charitable partnership with Wooden Spoon.”

The Bee Hive community hub was the brainchild of Northgate College headteacher Shez Webb and provides dedicated facilities for students with specific learning needs and disabilities as they progress into further education or employment. Pupils play a part in operating the centre’s cafe, which is open six-days-a-week for 48 weeks every year, allowing them to gain valuable life skills in a bright, welcoming environment. The centre’s other assets include a massage area and hydrotherapy swimming pool. Speaking after touring the hub, TNT’s Dave said: “I love the way the community works hand-in-hand with the children here. “For me, it’s that special ingredient which makes this place work, along with Shez’s incredible passion and the students’ enthusiasm.” Shez is no stranger to working with Wooden Spoon, having received more than £25,000 in grants from the children’s charity of rugby over a number of years.

“It was fantastic to see the students enjoying the gym that we’ve helped to kit out through our 20-year partnership with Wooden Spoon.”

➤ To find out more about the projects we help visit, log on to www.woodenspoon.org.uk/projects-we-support Spring 2016


Robshaw’s resolve Harlequins hero throws his weight behind Holly’s hospice fundraising drive


NGLAND’S opening encounters of this year’s Six Nations tournament showed there is no shortage of spirit in Eddie Jones’ resurgent squad. As this issue of Spoonews went to press, wins against Scotland and Italy had raised expectations of a championship victory and a dramatic return to form for the recent World Cup hosts. Chris Robshaw is set to be a key figure in the national team’s drive for silverware and the formidable flanker is determined to defy those pundits who wrote off the squad’s chances ahead of a ball being thrown. Such resolve has characterised the 29-yearold’s playing career and is an attribute he holds in high esteem. Chris, who has skippered both Harlequins and England, demonstrated his admiration for anyone prepared to roll up their sleeves in a bid to succeed when he made surprise visit to the family home of rugby fan Holly George. Holly’s special house guest’s appearance was arranged by Wooden Spoon in recognition of her own indomitable spirit. Despite having DiGeorge syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes her severe leg cramps, heart problems and breathing difficulties, the 13-year-old has launched a campaign to raise funds towards the building of a children’s hospice close to her home in Berkshire. Set up to assist the work of Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service, Hugs for Holly has been boosted by a recent Wooden Spoon appeal, which raised more than £16,000. This sum of money could be used to fund a bedroom at a new facility, which would enable young people to spend time with friends and siblings away from the prying eyes of their parents. Holly, twin sister Abbie and older sister Emily have already begun selecting colours and décor for the


Spring 2016

“sleepover” suite, which her mum Sue believes will greatly benefit families such as her own. “Nothing could have prepared me for the news that my child had a life-threatening condition,” she explained. “Holly deals with it so well but every day she has to rely on a ventilator to breathe and a mobility scooter to get around. She is in severe pain so needs daily physio and if she catches something as simple as a cold she can end up in hospital. Life can be tough. “But with the support of our local children’s hospice service, Holly can be cared for in a safe environment, which enables her to be a teenager and have fun with her sisters. It also allows me to have some much-needed time out or just get time to get simple jobs done like doing the weekly supermarket shop.” Conscious that most teenage girls do not have sporting celebrities calling round for a cuppa, Holly and her family took full advantage of having an England insider in their camp and quizzed the

Harlequins man on behalf of Spoonews… Holly: What does rugby mean to you? Chris: It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. My mum used to take me and my brothers down to mini rugby on a Sunday – I think that was more so she could have the morning off – and that’s probably where it formed. Going through school I was a bit of a bigger kid so I was better suited to it but it is a game for all shapes and sizes and it kind of went from there. I still really enjoy it and that’s the important thing. What are your tips for reaching the top? I think it’s like anything, it’s hard work and dedication. I think people often just see what happens on a Saturday, they don’t see how much people prepare during the week. This is our job at the end of the day, you are paid to be as fit as possible, as recovered as possible, as on top of things as possible and you need to make sure you go out and perform as well as you can at the weekend. If you want to succeed in all walks of life, whether it is a sport or profession, you have to work hard – I don’t think there is any sort of secret remedy.

FUNDED PROJECT How important are your teammates in rugby? Hugely. It is the ultimate team sport and there are always positions that get more of the headlines and stuff than the guy who is just going to hit the ruck and do the hard stuff. In a team sport you need everyone to do their job and if everyone does their job then the team will be successful.

“It is a bit of a rollercoaster at times but that is like any walk of life.”

we didn’t do as well as we wanted to and we take responsibility for that, but as a tournament and as a rugby brand it was hugely successful. We know from an England perspective that we weren’t good enough but as a competition it was fantastic. Throughout the country, from the first game to the last, every stadium was full and the atmosphere was fantastic.

against the 15 best players in their country. What’s the best bit about being a professional? Probably doing something that I’ve always wanted to do as a job. I am extremely lucky and in an extremely privileged position. You also get to meet some fantastic people. It is a bit of a rollercoaster at times but that is like any walk of life. What’s your proudest moment? Probably captaining England, to go out there to captain and play for your country is an incredible honour. It is something I’ve always wanted to do. When you get to Twickenham it’s an incredible place, kind of gladiatorial in a sense, very noisy and it’s the 15 best players in your country

What’s it like walking on to a pitch as captain? Incredible. During the week there is so much pressure with media and appearances that you have to do, but when you get to that tunnel moment and the changing room, that’s the bit that you love. It is just about playing rugby, you don’t have to worry about anything happening next week. When you walk out you hear a roar of people, the flamethrowers go off and it is pretty cool feeling. When you go to places like Wales you get booed a bit but that’s still a good feeling to be honest. What do you prefer, club or international games? International – that’s where you want to be playing, isn’t it? You want to be out there on the big stage, in the big games, playing against the best players in the world. Your club games are also hugely important and I grew up supporting Harlequins and had a top as a kid, so to win silverware with them has been fantastic.

Are you looking forward to the Six Nations? I can’t wait. Whenever you go back to England it is hugely exciting. You are meeting up with the other best players in the country, pushing each other and the training is just that little bit sharper. Everyone just wants to win. Can England win it? Yes, I think so, I really do. We have come extremely close the last four years and as a team we are not too far away and that’s what we’ve got to remember. We are very close and as a team we can hopefully go that final bit. ➤ Wooden Spoon Chilterns has so far committed £100,000 to Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. To find out more about local projects visit woodenspoon.org.uk/our-regions ➤ Holly is asking people to “click and hug” by sharing her Facebook page – millionhugsforholly – and Twitter account, @ hugsforholly.

How was the World Cup? The way we finished was disappointing but we are coming back round now, it has taken a while but we are getting back on top of it. Has rugby benefited from the World Cup? I think so, the game has grown. As a national team

Strong squad (from left to right): Mum Sue, Holly, sister Abbie, Chris Robshaw, sister Emily and dad Ande

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On your bike! Join Wooden Spoon and 20,000 cyclists by snapping up your space for this year’s Prudential Ride100 on 31 July 2016 This 100 mile cycle will take you through the iconic sights and spectacular scenery of London and the Surrey Hills. Every pedal will help disadvantaged and disabled young people in the UK and Ireland.

Get in touch today and scrum join our team for 2016:

w: woodenspoon.org.uk/events t: 01252 773720


Main image, Open-air adventure: Children at Henry Tyndale School have been getting hands-on with fun equipment in their new outdoor play area Inset, top: Rachael Burford (centre) at the play area’s opening Inset, bottom: Pupils and staff show their gratitude for the support of Wooden Spoon

Providing the power of play Hampshire children head outdoors thanks to Wooden Spoon’s support


NGLAND Sevens skipper Rachael Burford was the star at the unveiling of a Hampshire school’s Wooden Spoonsponsored outdoor play area. Charity ambassador Rachael travelled to Farnborough’s Henry Tyndale School to cut the ribbon at the new facility, which provides fun sensory play for the establishment’s approximately 120 pupils. Speaking after the event, the 2009 and 2013 Sevens World Cup veteran said she was proud to have seen the difference being made through the power of rugby. She added: “What I enjoy most about attending an opening of a project that Wooden Spoon has supported is seeing children benefiting from new facilities or equipment and the smiles and happiness it brings. “Every child deserves to

experience the joy of playing at school and if a specialist playground can help with that, then it’s great.” Wooden Spoon’s involvement at Henry Tyndale began in 2014 when it requested assistance from the charity to fund the installation of a specialist play area. The school’s outdoor facilities at the time were inadequate, with bare Tarmac and a few items of play equipment proving unsuitable for pupils with restricted movement, including those in wheelchairs. The renovated area is now fully accessible and provides safe play for youngsters at the school, who are aged between two and 19. Many of the pupils also have an additional need such as a physical disability, language disorder or autistic spectrum disorder. Wooden Spoon Chief Operating Officer Barry Monahan said he

was “delighted” to support Henry Tyndale School. He said: “The old playground was not adequate for many of the pupils, so being able to provide grant funding to help create this specialist outdoor playground is inspiring. Wooden Spoon believes every child, no matter what their background, should have access to the same opportunities. The playground will guarantee many more smiles and fun to come.” Barry also recorded his gratitude to supporters of the Henry Tyndale School project, with special mention reserved for the assistance provided by Wooden Spoon’s Chilterns region. ➤ To find out more about the projects we help, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/projects-wesupport Spring 2016


Having a ball

Paralympian Steve Brown joins Wooden Spoon’s mission to highlight murderball’s less menacing merits to the masses


Spring 2016




HILE the blood and thunder nature of wheelchair rugby has always been a major attraction for Steve Brown, its “murderball” moniker is at odds with his experience of the sport. That is not to say that the Wooden Spoon ambassador has escaped his share of bruises and broken fingers in pursuit of silverware for club and country. Rather, any physical pain inflicted by the frenetic, full-contact discipline pales into insignificance when compared to the extent it has enriched the Paralympian’s life. Steve’s first glimpse of the combative sport came at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 2005, just months after a 12-foot fall from a first-floor balcony left him paralysed from the chest down and struggling to adjust to his new reality. A selfconfessed adrenaline junkie before his accident, he was immediately struck by the aggression and competitiveness of the duelling players. “When I was injured I was wrapped in cotton wool and everything was made flat, easy and safe,” Steve told Spoonews. “That is not the lifestyle I had had – I was used to skydiving, rock climbing and white water rafting. “It was nice to have the opportunity to not be in that ‘safe’ environment and to get away from it through wheelchair rugby was a relief. “When I started playing, it was about building up my strength after my injury and about meeting like-minded people. But it grew from that very quickly to being something I was passionate about, wanted to win at and fortunately others felt I had promise in it.” Steve’s potential was quickly realised, with impressive performances at the British National Championships in 2006 and the IWRF European Championships the following year seeing his stock in the sport rocket. And the disappointment of missing out on making his Paralympic bow in Beijing was eclipsed in some style in 2012 when he captained Team GB at the London Games. “It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?,” the 34-year-old said. “Being captain at your home Games and having the opportunity to represent my country in front of friends and family is what dreams are made of. “On top of that, the team I was part of were like brothers, thick as thieves, and to be out there speaking and acting on their behalf and having their trust in me to do that was something special.” The skipper’s comfort in front of the cameras at London 2012 did not go unnoticed by broadcast bosses and Steve is now a regular face on television, presenting and commentating on the sport he loves. His star status and affinity

Like-minded company: Members of Canterbury RFC were put through their paces at the Copper Box Arena

with wheelchair rugby has also seen him build an enduring relationship with Wooden Spoon. The charity, which has been credited by Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby for providing the opportunity for greater numbers of young people to participate, helped assist in funding the design of chairs suitable for younger, smaller players and continues to provide clubs and schools with equipment. To date, it has granted more than £140,000 to wheelchair rugby projects around the UK. Wooden Spoon recently partnered with Steve and the club he coaches, Canterbury RFC, to host a training session at the Olympic Park’s Copper Box Arena in an effort to showcase the

“I now invest what time I can into helping other people, be it through sport or going into schools as a mentor.”

sport’s inclusivity and accessibility. Recalling his introduction to the children’s charity of rugby, Steve said: “I was invited to come along to a [Wooden Spoon] dinner. After listening to stories about what the charity does and how it has helped individuals from all walks of life, I asked them to let me know whenever I could do anything to help and the relationship has gone from strength-to-strength. “I have been through some tricky situations in my life, I’ve had some good times and not so good times, so I could relate to some of the stories I heard. I can’t help the people who helped me so I now invest what time I can into helping other people, be it through sport or going into schools as a mentor. “That is why I am so pleased to work with Wooden Spoon – they have the same attitude.” In addition to supporting the charity, Steve is hoping to tend to some unfinished business this year by helping Team GB’s medal charge at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. Being voted “best in class” at the BT National Championships last May convinced the London Wheelchair Rugby Club star to reverse his decision to retire from international action and he is now set on surpassing the squad’s London 2012 standing. “We went into the home Games ranked fifth in the world and came out ranked fifth in the world,” the Sky Sports presenter added. “There weren’t any surprises but of course I wanted a medal. I trained for a medal, the team trained for a medal and coming out fifth is not where we wanted to be. I still lie in bed now thinking and dreaming of whether there is something I could have done that would have got my teammates the medals they deserved. “I don’t feel unfulfilled because no-one beat us because we didn’t train as hard as we should have, no-one beat us because we didn’t put the effort in, they beat us because on the day they were better than us. “I just wish we had been better and I had been better but there is no point dwelling on it. I only think about what I could have done differently so I learn from it and move forwards. I don’t dwell on negativity.” Regardless of results in Rio, Steve is testament to murderball’s restorative qualities. “It’s in my blood now,” he concluded. “When I’m not playing, I’m coaching and when I’m not coaching, I’m introducing new people to it. My life revolves round the sport, whether I’m talking about it or playing it. It’s non-stop.” ➤ To learn more about the range of projects supported by Wooden Spoon, visit www.woodenspoon. org.uk/projects-we-support Spring 2016


Life preservers Selfless senior citizens shun retirement to help save the lives of bullied teens


HILE many may have been moved to tears on reading the story of Simone Grice, a bullied schoolgirl who committed suicide in 2009, the response of one elderly couple was truly remarkable. Fred and Vivian Morgan were so taken aback by the tragic tale that they had a drastic rethink of their retirement plans. Determined to try to prevent further tragedies, the genteel grandparents called time on their bed and breakfast business and converted their ten-bedroom home into a school for bullied children. “A guest had left a newspaper in a room and in it was the story of a child in Cornwall who had thrown herself off a motorway bridge with her mobile phone in one hand and her teddy in the other to escape the fear,” Vivian told Spoonews, recalling the catalyst for her compassion. “It was shocking and I remember thinking that as adults we should be able to do better by our young people. “Fred and I had been running the bed and breakfast for around six years and wanted to do something more useful with the building, so I started to make some enquiries and it all went from there.”


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Seven years on and 37 pupils have had their lives transformed by Northleigh House – a fully-functioning independent school in Hatton, Warwick. Around half of those who have passed through the Morgan’s front door have tried to take their own lives at least once, with the majority referred by the council as a consequence of being too depressed to attend their local state school. “The only common thing about our students is that they are all in despair and desperate when they first come here – and so are most of the parents too,” Vivian said. “It takes a while for them to start to improve. There is one little girl who has only just stopped coming in and sitting in a tight ball curled up on the end of a sofa. “She is starting to do things now and like all the others, she will get to the stage where she will sit exams and do well.

“The only common thing about out students is that they are all in despair and desperate when they first come here.”

“All of our students have been successful, which I think is quite outstanding,” the 72-yearold added. “No one system usually works for everybody but all have gone on with a chance in life and that is all we are aiming to do really.” The couple’s continued commitment to helping others was recently rewarded with a Pride of Britain award but Vivian insists that Wooden Spoon and its supporters should share in the sense of satisfaction in the school. Money provided by the charity’s Warwickshire region has been used to build a science laboratory and outside classroom at Northleigh House, which follows the national curriculum and is subject to Ofsted inspections. Both facilities are used daily by the students who are aged between 11 and 16, study English, maths and science, and are taught by 22 mainly part-time staff. “The rooms are in use all of the time – they are invaluable and we wouldn’t have them without Wooden Spoon and you can’t get away from that,” said Vivian, who explained that most pupils stay at the school for around a year before moving on “happy” to a sixth form college. “Some who have taken their science GCSE


FUNDED PROJECT Pictures: Daily Mirror

have got remarkably good results and one lad is now at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College. None of that could have happened without you. What Wooden Spoon has done is invaluable.” With council support falling short of covering the school’s running costs, trustees Vivian and Fred (95) continue to raise funds for Northleigh House and work there daily to ensure its doors remain open. For the time being at least, retirement remains off the agenda. “We’re not ready to retire yet,” Vivian added. “We love it. Everyday is wonderful. I don’t mind working at the school everyday, but I don’t like the fact that it is dependent on us doing that. I want to make sure it is safe and I don’t want it to all come adrift.” For Vivian, the motivation for working on at Northleigh House is simple. “I want to see more children be given a chance,” she concluded.

“I want to see more children be given a chance. I have great difficulty with the fact that young people find themselves in this dreadful predicament.”

“I have great difficulty with the fact that young people find themselves in this dreadful predicament. When I was their age I don’t think I understood the concept of suicide and yet they are prepared to do it. “We ought as a group of grown-up human beings to be able to do better for them. We shouldn’t be letting our young people get to a stage where they are killing themselves.

“What I have done is not clever – in fact I’m the least clever here – but I have just persevered and I suppose that’s because I just can’t take lives being wasted.”

➤ Read more about how Wooden Spoon transforms young people’s lives at woodenspoon.org.uk/our-stories Spring 2016


Ultimate challenges Find new limits in 2016!

We have a number of great events you can take part in throughout the year, have fun whilst fundraising and make a difference to disabled and disadvantaged children. One of our core values at Wooden Spoon is fun and we encourage all our supporters, friends and family to take part in events that you will enjoy. There are events happening regularly right across the country that cater for a variety of interests all to raise vital funds for Wooden Spoon.

Get in touch today and scrum join our team for 2016:

w: woodenspoon.org.uk/events t: 01252 773720


DID YOU KNOW? Ufton Adventure ultimately plans to cater for up to 3,000 children per year

Main image, cooking with gas: Action from the unveiling of Ufton Adventure’s Wooden Spoon kitchen, which was opened by former All Black Bryn Evans (inset)

Fuelling outdoor adventures Wooden Spoon kitchen caters for kids at Berkshire-based centre


HILDREN taking part in outdoor adventures at a Berkshire centre have been keeping their energy levels up thanks to a well-used Wooden Spoon-funded kitchen. The top-class catering facility was the latest addition to Ufton Adventure, a woodland activity centre which provides outward bound-like activities for disabled and disadvantaged youngsters. Made possible thanks to a £25,000 grant from Wooden Spoon’s Chilterns region, the kitchen is situated in a central hub cabin and allows staff and pupils to prepare and cook their own meals. Ufton Adventure is run by the Ufton Court Educational Trust and gives local children the chance to get hands-on with fun activities including woodland archery, bushcraft and fishing in medieval ponds. A spokesman said the centre had been set up with the generous help of Wooden Spoon’s Chilterns region and other supporters to provide opportunities to the area’s most disadvantaged youngsters, adding: “We provide repeated residential

experiences for these children, recognising that it takes more than one visit to turn a life around. “Our aim is for them to leave us with increased self-esteem and confidence, happy to engage in school and life.” The Wooden Spoon kitchen opened its doors to visitors in September 2013, when thenLondon Irish and New Zealand player Bryn Evans was on hand to cut the ribbon. The well-equipped facility has since become an indispensable part of the experience for users, with more than 1,000 visits made by disadvantaged or disabled young people aged between four and 16 within the first year. Of

that number, 724 children stayed overnight at Ufton Adventure. Users of the kitchen learn to cook collectively, with children directly involved in food preparation before enjoying their meals in a relaxing chill-out zone. Youngsters also get to make bread, main courses and desserts and can even grow and harvest produce for the kitchen in the vegetable gardens in front of the catering cabin. Ufton Adventure’s spokesman added: “For many of them, this was their first night away without mum or dad. These children had experiences completely beyond their normal comfort zone in unfamiliar woodland that they would not have otherwise had

access to. “The courses they have participated in have stretched them as individuals, built their confidence and given them practical skills for life.” Ufton Adventure’s Wooden Spoon kitchen is part of a dedicated block for visitors to the centre, with the central hub cabin it is housed in complemented by six sleeping cabins for overnight guests. The Educational Trust was formed in 2006 to bring history and the environment alive for thousands of children every year. It is centred on the 16-acre Englefield Estate near Bucklebury. Ufton Adventure, which sprang into life in 2012, has proved to be a roaring success and has even drawn celebrity praise from one of the world’s most celebrated adventurers. “Young people need dynamic projects like Ufton Adventure that empower them to get outdoors, embrace challenge and change their lives,” said Bear Grylls. ➤ Read more about projects we’ve supported at woodenspoon. org.uk/blog-and-news Spring 2016


High esteem Mountain adventurer-turned-marshal Derek Morton describes the feel-good factor he has gained from volunteering with Wooden Spoon


OMPETITORS in a recent running of Wooden Spoon’s Four Peaks Challenge may have thought they were hallucinating when they approached the top of Ben Nevis. Having made an energetic start to the annual charity event, climbers heading for Scotland’s highest point were greeted by larger-than-life marshal Derek Morton bearing a sumptuous selection of fancy food and drink. “When you are a marshal, everyone provides sweets and other things to give to the competitors,” Derek told Spoonews. “On this particular


Spring 2016

year, everyone decided to try consecutive occasions beginning and outdo each other. That led in 1998. to me standing on top of It was during the tough Ben Nevis offering stages of the various Champagne and climbs that he grew chocolate. to appreciate “It was a bit the efforts of of fun, but the army of they were marshals who certainly well made the event appreciated!” possible and Derek’s gourmet Derek pledged to Derek Morton gifts to Wooden join the volunteers’ Spoon’s fundraisers were ranks the following year. an extreme example of the lengths That pledge was realised and he was willing to go to to assist it marked the beginning of a 12those taking part in an event he year period in which Derek gladly had himself completed on four gave up his free time to assist

“Not only will you be helping a wonderful charity, but you might be surprised by what you are able to do.”

competitors and ultimately make it possible for them to raise as much money for Wooden Spoon as possible. He explained: “When we enquired about volunteering, they didn’t want anyone who hadn’t done the event themselves because if you have done it, you know what the competitors are feeling. “You remember how your body felt so you can understand what they are going through. “When you are tired and you get a bit of banter from the marshals, it can be the thing that keeps you going. You know you are doing a



great thing and the support helps you to move on.” Although he has been an active fundraiser for a children’s heart unit and a cancer unit at a Newcastle hospital, Derek’s support for Wooden Spoon’s mountainous challenge – and the High Five event in 2015, for which he served as a timekeeper – gave him a taste for the particularly hands-on volunteering opportunities provided by the charity. He explained that playing an integral part in supporting an event which in turn benefited children across the UK and Ireland kept him coming back with renewed enthusiasm year after year. “It became such an important thing for me,” he said. “When 1 January came around, I would start to go a bit hyper because we were into the six-month countdown. “Having done the event, I always wanted to give something back and marshaling gave me the

chance to do so. “At the end, there would be a presentation where we would find out how much money was raised and we would have the marshals standing on a table doing a drum roll because they didn’t know the amount. When we found out, it was a wonderful feeling because you knew it was going to such a worthwhile charity.” As a veteran marshal of a dozen High Five Challenges, Derek has enjoyed providing refreshments, encouragement and a friendly face to hundreds of climbers. But as much as those scaling the peaks have benefited from his generosity of time and spirit, he insists

that volunteering has given just as much back to him. “I have to say that I feel very proud to have played a little part in it,” he commented. “I feel strongly about Wooden Spoon and I’m often on the website seeing how things are progressing. “Through marshaling I have got to know people like Phil Vickery and Jason Leonard. When you see how well run everything was and think that you have played some small part in it, you definitely feel a sense of pride.” When asked whether he would recommend volunteering with Wooden Spoon to others, Derek was unequivocal in his answer. “Where do I start?”, he said. “I would happily do it over and over

again and I think more people should give it a go. “It became such an important thing for me and I have made so many friends who I still keep in touch with. I would say give volunteering a go – it will give you an experience and memories that will always be in your mind. “Not only will you be helping a wonderful charity, but you will be giving yourself a different challenge and you might be surprised by what you are able to do.” ➤ Wooden Spoon has more than 35 regional volunteer committees across the country who raise funds to help children in their local community and the money they collect is spent on local projects. If you can spare a few hours or would like to assist on a more regular basis, please contact regions@woodenspoon.com to find out details of your closest regional volunteer committee. Spring 2016


Dazzling display Junior players light up floodlit rugby festival


UNDREDS of youngsters shone under the spotlights during a series of floodlit rugby tournaments organised by one of Wooden Spoon’s newest regions. Wooden Spoon Wiltshire’s Floodlit Festival saw a dozen under-12 teams illuminate the pitches at Royal Wootton Bassett, Chippenham and Trowbridge Rugby Clubs and will culminate in a celebration final. The event, which was run as a pilot, helped the Wiltshire committee raise up to £5,000 towards a £50,000 target for a


Spring 2016

new outdoor learning facility at Rowdeford Special School, which is based near Devizes. The floodlit fun kicked off in October 2015 when Royal Wootton Bassett RFC hosted young teams from Minety, Marlborough and Swindon Supermarine. Chippenham RFC’s twice-postponed events saw the home team joined by Bradfordupon-Avon, Warminster and Corsham, while the final cluster was due to be be hosted at Trowbridge RFC. Wiltshire Chairman Gareth John told Spoonews that the standard woodenspoon.org.uk


of rugby across the tournaments was “fantastic”, despite some particularly tough conditions. He explained: “The Chippenham event was postponed twice because of the weather, and although it wasn’t raining when it eventually did go ahead, it was absolutely disgusting! “The kids got an hour-and-ahalf of rugby covered in mud and they enjoyed it, which was the most important thing. “We wanted to create a tournament that engaged them because they take on board the fact that, through what they are doing, they are benefiting children less fortunate than themselves.” Each club taking part had a maximum squad of 18 players, with each youngster given a sponsorship form. The subsequent money collected by the competitors was added to by income from a JustGiving page to provide a welcome boost to the Rowdeford School project. In addition to the muchappreciated financial windfall, the tournament helped the

relatively-new Wiltshire there are about 20. committee to increase its own “We then did some analysis visibility across the county. of club memberships to see Since its formation four years where the numbers were. If you ago, Wooden Spoon Wiltshire look at any of them, 70 per cent has worked hard to make itself of the membership is through an intrinsic part of the county’s colts, minis and juniors with the rugby community and highlight parents tacked on. the many projects the charity “Getting them involved in a helps to fund. rugby festival was the best way Gareth explained that, in to raise the most awareness the absence of any of Wooden Spoon.” Premiership teams The publicity in Wiltshire, campaign has the group’s certainly been approach has successful, with been to target many of the the grass roots clubs which movement. took part in He said: “About the tournament Gareth John 12 months ago we now carrying links sat down and thought to Wooden Spoon that while it’s great doing golf Wiltshire on their websites. days and dinners and black tie Advertising hoardings have events, what do we really want also been created for display to do? around teams’ pitches and car “We looked at the charity’s parks, while anecdotal feedback strapline and focused on ‘rugby’ suggests hearing about Wooden and ‘children’ and asked why Spoon’s good work has already we couldn’t integrate and create inspired others to start their own awareness within all the grass fundraising drives. roots clubs in Wiltshire, of which And such was the success of the

“The kids got an hour-and-a-half of rugby covered in mud and they enjoyed it.”

inaugural Floodlit Festival that planning is already underway for the next staging of the tournament, with Gareth holding grand plans for the future. “In some respects, raising money was secondary to raising awareness during this pilot year and we have had people saying they are now going to hold separate events for Wooden Spoon. That shows the awareness has grown tremendously. “We have got to the stage where we are planning next year already. We want to run two age groups, but we also want to get four or five surrounding counties to hold their own festivals and perhaps hold a celebration final at one of the big Premiership grounds. “Who knows – in the future it would be nice to have it running across every region in Wooden Spoon and playing the final at Twickenham!” ➤ To find out more about Wooden Spoon’s involvement in rugby, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/ wooden-spoon-rugby Spring 2016


Escape the scrum Planning on a rugby visit to Rio or to roar on the Lions next summer? Wooden Spoon partner Halcyon Travel offers some top tips for your tour


UTSIDE of Brazil, the neighbourhood of Deodoro, in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro is little known. Come August, Deodoro Olympic Park will be the second largest concentration of competition venues for the Rio 2016 Games and the location for Rugby Sevens’ Olympic bow. The two-day competition creates a reasonable rugby excuse (if you need one) to venture to Brazil and explore the many wonders of South America’s biggest country; so big you can expect to take a few domestic flights to enjoy the best of it. Of course, Rio de Janeiro – known for its raucous and flamboyant carnival festival and Copacabana and Ipanema (pictured above) beaches – is a great starting point for any tour. The 38-metre high Christ the Redeemer statue sitting above the city remains a sight that will stick in the memory forever. If eco-tourism is your thing then an Amazon and Pantanal Wetlands itinerary will allow you to visit rainforests and open wetlands and do a bit of toucan and pink river dolphin spotting in Rio Negro, just under a four-hour flight from Rio. The diversity of wildlife is enormous. North of Rio is the musically


Spring 2016

“Christ the Redeemer remains a sight that will stick in the memory forever.”

buzzing Salvador, capital of the cool coastal state of Bahia, where residents party in the streets to drumming bands. Elsewhere in Bahia, stunning beaches, palm trees and small fishing villages present an entrancingly slower pace of life. There are plenty of resorts and boutique hotels to choose from offering barefoot luxury. About 350 kilometres off Brazil’s northeast coast lies Fernando de Noronha, a volcanic archipelago. A protected national marine park and ecological sanctuary, it is a scuba and snorkelling paradise which is becoming increasingly popular as it is considered one of the best places in the world to dive. Finally, a visit to South America’s equivalent of New York, namely São Paulo, is a must. It’s a hive of nightlife, cultural experiences, skyscrapers and world-class restaurants with almost impossibly good-looking people everywhere. Planning further

➤ Following reported cases of the Zika virus, rugby fans planning a visit to Brazil should check current travel advice on www.gov.uk before travelling


EXTRA TIME Bird’s eye view: New Zealand’s luxury Eagles Nest lodge rests on a breathtaking peninsula

South American shower: Beyond Brazil’s cities lie sprawling rainforests

ahead to the summer of 2017 and the British & Irish Lions Tour, New Zealand boasts an array of attractions and activities. June and July may be New Zealanders’ winter months, but the “winterless North” hardly endures cold days. Parts of the South Island, however, have frosts and heavy snowfall and become world-class ski destinations. A combination of “rugby watching” and getting to know this spectacularly scenic country is a rewarding decision to make. New Zealand is often referred to as Middle Earth due to the role it played, with its majestic backdrops, in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, and needs to be explored to command full justice. Getting around is relatively easy by air and car though best enjoyed with a private driver/ guide so you do not miss a thing. Itinerary permutations are endless and can include winetasting in renowned vineyards, learning the Māori culture, whale watching, hiking through beautiful landscapes, fly fishing, driving a golf ball off a mountain top or an adrenalin-fuelled helicopter ride over Milford Sounds, where pilot/owner “Choppy” will blast out a variety of stirring music – Pink Floyd to Bowie – whilst flying you above and around the mountains. Totally exhilarating! The New Zealand travel experience, more often than not, over-delivers on expectations by a country mile.

FLY AWAY AND FUNDRAISE Allow Halcyon Travel Collections to create and book a bespoke travel itinerary in Brazil or New Zealand for you and the company will donate £200 per booking to Wooden Spoon as well as provide a £125 per person reduction on the total package price. All itineraries must include flights from the UK, ground arrangements (hotels, transfers, guides etc.) booked, confirmed and consumed through Halcyon to a minimum value of £6,500 or more per booking. Terms and conditions apply. If you are interested in any of these destinations or anywhere else in the world, contact Halcyon Travel Collections, which offers Spoonews readers preferred rates on any packaged holiday it creates. Email: david@halcyon-collections.com, call 07976 287 301 or visit www.halcyon-collections.com

Middle Earth: The majestic backdrop awaiting travellers to New Zealand

Spring 2016


Team up with us To raise more funds for your club and local good causes The perfect match Wooden Spoon’s Partner Club Programme offers grassroots clubs the opportunity to work with us to raise valuable funds for your local club and local projects supporting disabled and disadvantaged children. As well as linking up with our dedicated rugby supporters including rugby ambassadors and support from Wooden Spoon’s experienced fundraisers, you can make an even bigger impact on your club’s fundraising efforts.

Register your interest today: Get in touch today to find out how your club could benefit from working with the children’s charity of rugby

w: woodenspoon.org.uk/partnerclub e: mmitchell@woodenspoon.com t: 01252 773720


Pitch-perfect performance

On his latest trip down memory lane, former England winger David Trick raises a glass to Wooden Spoon’s celebrity supporters and the ‘bottle’ shown by a Welshman


AVING last issue claimed credit for providing the inspiration for the children’s charity of rugby by virtue of a woeful display in England colours, I thought it only fair to let others take centre stage this time round. There are, of course, far too many of you to mention by name. The charity’s expansive network of regional committees means Wooden Spoon can boast a supporting cast of hundreds. Such an impressive footprint also comes with a comprehensive events calendar and on any given week you can guarantee that someone, somewhere is raising money to fund projects within their own community or nationally. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of sampling countless days and nights out in the name of Wooden Spoon and I never cease to be amazed by the inventiveness of those organising them. Whether a ball, barn dance or brewery tour, a Wooden Spoon event always surpasses expectations and – more often than not – so too does the roll call of attendees. One particular night in the early noughties burns bright in the memory for that very reason. When I was asked to be the guest speaker at an evening hosted by Bridgwater Rugby Club I had no clue that I would end up being sensationally upstaged by a soon-to-be Broadway star. Not that I’m complaining – there can’t be too many other ex-pros who

can claim to have been on the same bill as Alfie Boe! As all those lucky enough to have caught one of his performances as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables will testify, the man can hold a tune. Perhaps less well known is that he can do so while enjoying a pint of Guinness. With everyone in the room already captivated by his rendition of Nessun Dorma, Alfie brought the Bridgwater crowd to its feet by using a second’s rest between

lyrics to see off three-quarters of a pint before belting out the song’s climax in pitch-perfect fashion. While sing-alongs with members of music’s glitterati are not an everyday occurrence, Wooden Spoon has no shortage of star supporters and, thanks to the charity’s rich rugby heritage, it is rare to attend an event and not find yourself in the company of some of the sport’s biggest names. This aspect of Wooden Spoon was clearly not known to a Welshman I met at a fundraising dinner in London not long after England had returned home from Australia in possession of the World Cup. Disregarding events Down Under, the gentleman in question was keen to impress on those around him that the newly-crowned champions “weren’t up to much”. Martin Bayfield – himself a giant of the game – interjected that World Cup winners Jason Leonard, Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio were all sat on the next table and cautioned “are you sure you want to continue?”. Quick as a flash, the Welshman quipped: “Well, since you put it that way, no – I can’t be bothered to repeat it three times.” My charity dinner companion may not have been a household name, but his deadpan putdown of the Webb Ellis Cup holders drew the biggest laugh of the evening and demonstrated the star qualities of all those who support Wooden Spoon. Thanks for the wonderful memories – please keep them coming.

“Whether a ball, barn dance or brewery tour, a Wooden Spoon event always surpasses expectations.”

“There can’t be too many other ex-pros who can claim to have been on the same bill as Alfie Boe.”

➤ For details on upcoming events and challenges, visit www.woodenspoon.org.uk/ events Spring 2016


Wooden Spoon needs you


N 2015 Wooden Spoon funded more than 65 projects to support disadvantaged and disabled children, in 2016 we want to fund even more. The charity does not receive any public funding, so it relies on its supporters to assist in bringing about real change to the lives of children and their families. Aside from raising funds through events and challenges (pages 36-37) and volunteering (pages 34-35), there are a host of other ways you can support Wooden Spoon in continuing to deliver projects throughout the UK. Here are just a selection...




Whether a little or a lot, donating regularly is one of the easiest ways to support the charity’s work and can be done with a few clicks of a mouse at bit.ly/MembershipWS

If you are a UK taxpayer, payroll giving (also known as workplace giving or give as you earn) allows you to make a donation to Wooden Spoon directly from your salary. Your gift comes before tax is deducted from your wages and the Inland Revenue passes any tax relief to the charity. To start giving, simply speak to your HR department.

By playing Wooden Spoon’s Weather Lottery you raise funds for the charity’s projects but also stand a chance of scooping a weekly jackpot of £25,000. Costing £1 per entry, results are calculated using temperatures from selected destinations around Europe on a particular day each week. Visit bit.ly/wslottery for further details.




Pledging even a small amount to Wooden Spoon in a will can create a lasting legacy, so please consider the charity when you are writing or updating your own. For more information on how to arrange a gift, you can speak to a member of the Wooden Spoon team in confidence on 01252 773720.

If you shop online, you can raise funds without putting any additional strain on

Another way of donating to the charity is by requesting donations to Wooden Spoon in lieu of floral tributes at the funeral of a loved one. Creating a fundraising page is a powerful way to remember and celebrate someone’s life by raising money in their memory. To find out how, call Wooden Spoon on 01252 773720.

your finances. The charity is registered with easyfundraising.org.uk and giveasyoulive.com, where thousands of well-known retailers such as Amazon, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis have signed up to donate a percentage of whatever you spend on the net. Alternatively, if you sell goods on eBay, why not donate a percentage of your sales to Wooden Spoon? Select the charity when listing an item and choose to donate between 10-100 per cent of your final selling price. eBay will give you a fee credit on your basic insertion and final value fees, equal to the percentage you donate, every time you list an item for Wooden Spoon. Finally, you can buy and benefit others by shopping at bit.ly/ShopWS


Spring 2016



Dates for your diary From charity cycle rides to golfing get-togethers and star-studded dinners, here are the latest Wooden Spoon events to mark on your calendar CRUSADERS RFC LUNCH 02 APRIL Show your support at Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties’ lunch (12pm) then watch Crusaders RFC take on Wisbech RFC (3pm).

CAPTAIN’S GOLF DAY 20 APRIL Join the Chilterns region for a four-man-team Stableford contest followed by three-course dinner at Beaconsfield Golf Club. Entry £80 per head.

Seamus Farrelly (07768 875789 or seamus@iceni-fs.co.uk)

John Bailey (07831 762401 or JEBailey@hwca.com)



Jonathan Davies OBE will be the star turn for Wooden Spoon Bristol and Bath’s lunch at The Bristol Hotel. Tickets £55 or £550 for a table of ten. Claire Bundy (01179 174384 or claire.bundy@osborneclarke.com)

SURREY SPORTSMAN’S DINNER 19 MAY Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens is guest of honour for this black-tie event at The Royal Automobile Country Club, Epsom.

Join Wooden Spoon Yorkshire for its 22nd Annual Charity Race Day at Ripon Racecourse for a fantastic lunch and racing in the Rowel Box. Richard Tully (tully540@btinternet.com)

ABERDEEN DINNER 19 MAY Join Wooden Spoon Scotland for the group’s annual dinner, which will be held at Marcliffe Hotel, Aberdeen.

John Hampton (07780 594451 or Hampton@oilclub.co.uk)

Phil Townsend (phil.townsend@btinternet.com)



Truro Golf Club will play host to Wooden Spoon Cornwall’s annual golf day, which will include a two-course carvery lunch and bacon rolls.

Teams of four can square off at Ballyliffin Old Course, with prizes presented by Lions’ legend Willie John McBride. Entry £100 per person.

John Sumnall (johnsumnall@btinternet.com)

Graham Hunter (02871 398801)



Wooden Spoon is the main beneficiary of the 21st Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival, which will be contested by more than 100 teams in Cardiff. Find out more at www.govsl.com/goldenoldies

Wooden Spoon Sussex invites you to its annual “Cricket Meets Spoon” lunch, which takes place at Sussex CCC, Hove. Ann Holt (01273 812929 or annholt1@hotmail.com)

For details on these events and many others, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/challenges

Spring 2016



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