Spoonews Autumn/Winter 2017

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Jacob Umaga follows in famous father’s footsteps


Young fan given Twickenham day out to remember

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH How golf is pitching in to support charity’s vision of sport for all

Protecting you and your family Competitive fixed fees for Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

sprattSOLICITORS endicott David Endicott has for a number of years been recognised as a Leading Individual by The Legal 500 and is further recommended in The Legal 500 UK 2016 for personal tax, trusts and probate as ‘an excellent professional’ who ‘answers questions immediately’ and is ‘always on top of his game’.




David Endicott T 01295 204005 E dendicott@se-law.co.uk www.se-law.co.uk |







E MAY not be a rugby club, but Wooden Spoon are not immune to the challenges posed by transfer requests, key players retiring and “boardroom” shake ups. Which is why – like many of our ever-increasing number of partner clubs – we’re returning after the summer break with a rejigged starting line-up (see page 8). As Acting Chief Executive Officer, those changes mean I get to deliver my first Spoonews teamtalk but it doesn’t impact on our overall objective, to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage across the UK and Ireland. Nor does it signal a switch in the match-winning tactics that have seen us deliver incredible results since our formation in 1983. As demonstrated by the range of projects featured in this edition, our regions have always been our star performers and we will continue to champion and support our nationwide network of volunteers who are determined to make a difference on their own doorsteps. Our track record for spending money in the region it is raised continues to win us support from within rugby’s ranks – whether in the form of former and future international stars such as Catherine Spencer (see pages 26-30) and Jacob Umaga (see pages 44-45) or an entire

county’s sporting community (page 37) – and we will not lose sight of why fans are so willing to cheer us on. Similarly, although our roots lie firmly within rugby, we will continue to look beyond the confines of its codes, both in terms of the projects we fund and how we fundraise for them. As the father of one of our beneficiaries explains on pages 38-41 of this issue, it is an approach that is appreciated and admired. “I am delighted that Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby and not rugby’s charity for children,” he told us. “The focus must always be on the children.” Unfortunately, there are more and more children in need of our support, which is why – as this new season begins – we are incredibly grateful to you for yours. Thank you for all that you do. Enjoy the issue.

Sarah Webb Acting Chief Executive Officer

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“Rugby has a positive impact on a lot of things in life – teamwork, communication and it brings people out of their shells.”

– Wasps young gun Jacob Umaga on why he intends to follow in his father's charitable footsteps (pages 44-45)

Picture: Richard Lane



In this issue... 12



SQUAD CHANGES Switch in formation at charity's national office

10 SUPER SEVEN A speedy selection of news from across Wooden Spoon

12 MANE ATTRACTION New stablemate welcomed to riding for the disabled centre

13 WALK THE WALK Charity staff swap desks for drills and decking

17 RESCUE CLUB David Trick recounts his fall from golfing grace




Funded projects



Young rugby fan revels in Twickenham spotlight

Riding Arena steers city's youth in positive direction



Catherine Spencer shares her views on the women's game

Students' skills soar under social inclusion programme



Rival rugby clubs unite to support community

Outdoor classroom cultivates greater career choices


Daughter honours father in fittingly-sporty manner

55 BUTTERFLY EFFECT Extension continues to brighten families' lives

Extra time 56 SWEDE CHARIOT Spoonews takes a spin in Volvo’s safety-conscious estate

58 NATIONAL TREASURE Bodysgallen Hall highlights age is no barrier to comfort


How golf is pitching in to drive sporting inclusion



Wildlife Trust welcomes Wooden Spoon support

54 CHANGING ROOMS Storage space transformed into first-class facility

ON THE COVER Beneficiary Ted Mitchell, who has the same kidney disorder as the late Jonah Lomu, was treated to a day to remember Picture: Josh Ward

PUBLISHED BY TYLERBALE COMMUNICATIONS Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714 870 Write: 10 Borelli Yard, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7NU All rights reserved.

WOODEN SPOON – THE CHILDREN’S CHARITY OF RUGBY Email: charity@woodenspoon.org.uk Tel: 01252 773 720 Fax: 01252 773 721 Write: Sentinel House, Ancells Business Park, Harvest Crescent, Fleet, Hampshire GU51 2UZ Contact details for our regions can be found online on page 20 and at woodenspoon.org.uk/near-you

Content © Wooden Spoon 2017. Registered address: Sentinel House, Ancells Business Park, Harvest Crescent, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UZ. Charity Registration No 326691 (England & Wales) and SC039247 (Scotland).

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UNDREDS of young players turned on the talent and smiles to showcase the growing popularity of Special Educational Needs (SEN) rugby at Wooden Spoon’s International Tag Festival. This year’s tournament, which was hosted by Witney Rugby Club in Oxfordshire and sponsored by Dell, attracted 14 teams from across the UK and Ireland. The players – who were roared on from the sidelines by more than 400 friends and relatives and Wooden Spoon lead ambassador Phil Vickery – were a credit to the fast-evolving form of the sport, according to host coach Jeremy Bristoe. “It is really great [for those taking part] to be included, feel part of a community and part of a fantastic family,” explained the Witney Wolves boss. “[SEN rugby] is happiness, it is joy. “The great thing about this festival

FLOURISHING FESTIVAL Tag tournament has potential to grow into global game, according to Witney coach Jeremy Bristoe (pictured below, far left)

is that we’ve had a high-profile player like Phil Vickery here so the profile has gone through the roof and the future is global now. “We are already trying to involve people in Italy and there is certainly a future for SEN rugby in the UK.” Tournament manager Gareth Lewis added: “SEN rugby makes sure everyone can actually play the game we all love. “We had teams from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England all competing for nothing more really than the joy of playing rugby.” Former England captain and World Cup winner Phil also commended those taking part for demonstrating the inclusivity of sport. “It is not about having issues, disabilities or difficulties, it is just playing rugby and playing it with a smile on your face.” The 2017 festival, which was last year organised by Wooden Spoon Shropshire and hosted by the Telford Hornets, saw the launch of the “Supertagduck”

logo (pictured left). It is hoped the eye-catching artwork will become the global banner for SEN rugby, having been designed by renowned Disney artist Giorgio Cavazzano. The Italian, who has produced comics starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck during a 50year career, is also the creator of the Witney Wolves club crest. ➤ To watch a video featuring action from this year’s tournament, visit http://bit.ly/2rZxxfK

“[SEN rugby] is not about having issues, disabilities or difficulties, it is just playing rugby and playing it with a smile on your face.”

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TRANSFER ACTION Sarah Webb (left) has been appointed acting CEO of Wooden Spoon – a role in which she will be supported by Barry Monahan (inset left); while Jai Purewal (inset right) has left the charity, after a ten-year tenure




OODEN Spoon has a new skipper following a switch in formation and personnel at the children’s charity of rugby’s national office in Fleet. Sarah Webb, who has extensive experience of working with volunteer organisations, has pulled on the captain’s armband after accepting the role of Acting Chief Executive Officer. Having previously held the position of Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at Wooden Spoon, Sarah told Spoonews she is relishing the prospect of leading the charity as it tackles the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. “I am proud to be part of such a great team of supporters and volunteers and am committed to driving forward together,” she added. “As a team, I am confident we can build on the charity’s many success stories and continue to raise as much money as possible to support children and young people with disabilities and facing disadvantage across the UK and Ireland.” Sarah’s appointment follows the departure of Jai Purewal as Director


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of Rugby and Community Investment after more than ten years of service to Wooden Spoon. A popular member of the leadership team, Jai left the charity during the summer to pursue a career in the commercial sector but will continue to support Warwickshire’s regional committee as a volunteer. Praising Jai’s contribution, Sarah said: “We are extremely grateful to him for his hard work, dedication and enthusiasm.” Barry Monahan is to continue as Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the wide range of financial, legal and administrative tasks that keep Wooden Spoon running smoothly. ➤ If you have any questions regarding the charity’s leadership, email charity@woodenspoon.org.uk


A LITTLE EXTRA TO DO MORE FOR the first time in more than a decade, Wooden Spoon is increasing its membership rates in a bid to extend its support to even more families in the UK and Ireland. The price change – which equates to just £1 extra a month or an increase of £10 for those committing annually – comes into effect from 1st October 2017 and will be used to help tackle some startling statistics head on. Such a small rise is expected to make a huge difference to the estimated onein-ten children in the UK and Ireland with a disability and the 3.5 million youngsters living in poverty. Whether used to fund a sensory room, support special educational projects or maintain mental health schemes, the additional money will enable the children’s charity of rugby to change more young lives for the better. Donating regularly remains one of the easiest ways to support this lifechanging work and those giving at least £50 per year (or £5 per month) become automatic members of Wooden Spoon. Being part of this internationally-renowned rugby family entitles supporters to entry to two exclusive draws to win tournament tickets, a free Wooden Spoon gift, two issues of Spoonews each SPOONEWS year and regular updates BULLISH from the charity’s many MOOD projects and beneficiaries. You can sign up for a membership online at woodenspoon.org.uk/ membership SPRING/SUMMER 2017

England’s Raging Bull revels in charity captaincy


Nigel Owens on rugby’s most important value


League star Corey Thompson joins the team

l Congratulations to Andrew Cooper who won June’s membership draw – two tickets to Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership’s London Double Header.




A TRUE GENTLEMAN Wooden Spoon remembers Ron Young


HE children’s charity of rugby is mourning the loss of one of its staunchest supporters following the death of Ron Young in May. Driven by a deep desire to help young people facing disadvantage, the 83-year-old grandfather of four dedicated more than a quarter of a century to raising vital funds for Wooden Spoon. Ron, who was first introduced to the charity by its co-founder Peter Scott, played a pivotal role in Wooden Spoon Surrey’s success story, serving as the committee’s treasurer and secretary before becoming chairman in 1995. An accountant by profession and director at Lombard, he worked wonders with the region’s figures – securing almost £200,000 in sponsorship and donations during his ten-year tenure at the helm. Ron initiated Wooden Spoon Surrey’s annual black-tie Sportsman’s Dinner,

which remains its flagship event and this year raised around £3,000 (see page 11), and – as a keen golfer and member of The Royal Automobile Club – organised and hosted a number of hugely-popular golf days for the charity. He was also responsible for introducing John Inverdale to the children’s charity of rugby, persuading him to become Wooden Spoon Surrey’s honorary president – a role the broadcaster holds to this day. Ron’s son Graham Young told Spoonews: “Dad was a big England rugby fan and for a long time had four debentures at Twickenham which, with four grandsons, were hotly-contested. “He was always keen to go himself but was generous in allocating the tickets around family and friends. “And although he loved his sport, it was helping improve the lives of children and those less fortunate that attracted him to Wooden Spoon and

“Ron was a very respected and well-liked person and having his support helped us grow as quickly as we did.”

IN GOOD COMPANY Former Wooden Spoon Surrey chairman Ron Young is pictured flanked by fellow supporters John Inverdale and Jason Leonard

kept him so actively involved.” The benevolent octogenarian’s involvement with the charity world stretched beyond Wooden Spoon and he was also an ardent supporter and visitor to The Diamond Centre in Carshalton, Surrey, which provides therapeutic riding and carriage driving for children and adults with disabilities. Describing as vital Ron’s contribution to Wooden Spoon’s evolution, Peter Scott said: “During the early days of fundraising, corporate sponsors and industry partners were the lifeblood of the charity. “Ron was a very respected and incredibly well-liked person within the financial sector and having his support helped us to grow as quickly as we did. I know that he also went on to help make a huge difference as a dedicated regional volunteer. “He was a true gentleman – of that there is no doubt.” Ron is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joyce, son Graham, daughter Carole and four proud grandsons.

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A speedy selection of news from our regions, partner clubs and beyond 1 2










New Zealand’s superstars are heading to Twickenham to take on the Barbarians on 4th November and Spoonews readers can be in the stadium and help the children’s charity of rugby at the same time. Supporters booking seats for the eagerly-anticipated fixture using the following Ticketmaster link will earn Wooden Spoon ten per cent of their gross ticket costs: bit.ly/2tmNA7T

While most Irish fans attending this year’s Six Nations clash with Italy had to be content with a bonus point win, one group of tourists were also treated to a once-in-a-lifetime audience with Pope Francis. Séamus Farrelly – chairman of Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties – helped arrange for youngsters from Cheeverstown, a special needs school in Dublin, to receive a blessing from the pontiff.

Norfolk’s rugby community put their brain power to the test as they tackled a quiz to raise more than £2,000 for Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties’ Club Together bike ride (see page 37). The event, which was hosted by Norwich RFC, attracted around 160 people who formed 18 teams to answer a series of questions. Participants also dug deep to buy tickets for a raffle and bid for lots in an auction.

Take a bow, Morgan Robert Sparke. Having convinced his parents to reward his tryscoring exploits with money, the Ponteland RFC U12s player ran home enough tries over the course of a season to amass a sizeable sum. However, rather than splash the cash on the latest videogame or DVD, the young starlet opted to pop his winnings in the post to the children’s charity of rugby.


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Sussex rugby clubs swapped tries for tees to take part in the 2017 Sussex Rugby Clubs Golf Challenge. Organised by Wooden Spoon Sussex, the tournament saw 16 teams representing county sides head to Mid-Sussex Golf Club in June to do battle over 18 holes. East Grinstead RFC emerged as clear winners, with Chichester RFC and Brighton RFC claiming the minor place positions.

Widnes Vikings – the first rugby league side to sign up to Wooden Spoon’s Partner Club Programme – has announced that Corey Thompson has activated an “opt out” clause in his contract and will return to NRL action Down Under for the 2018 season. The southern hemisphere star supported the Spoon Rugby Drive by running a training session for special needs students in Widnes earlier this year.

The most decorated player in rugby league history was guest of honour at Wooden Spoon Surrey’s 25th annual Sportsman’s Dinner. Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards, who was voted Man of Steel in 1990 and won 37 medals before hanging up his boots, shared stories of his stellar, dualcode career with an appreciative audience. Among the 130 guests attending the evening at The Royal Automobile Club was David McGuigan from Wooden Spoon Partner Club Old Reigatians, who presented the children’s charity of rugby with a donation of £7,877.

GET INVOLVED Do you have a story you would like featured in Super Seven? Email details to spoonews@tylerbale.co.uk

Autumn/Winter 2017






Charity staff swap desks for drills and decking to help make a difference

HILDREN and families at a Surrey hospice have an exciting new place to play thanks to a oneday DIY project involving staff from Wooden Spoon’s national office. Workers from the children’s charity of rugby headed to Christopher’s Shooting Star Chase in Guildford to transform a barren patch of grassland into a wheelchair-accessible recreation area in just eight hours. Under the expert guidance of seven ex-military mentors from leadership and development company Fusion Community Initiatives, the team joined forces with hospice volunteers to construct facilities including a 50-metre decked Wooden Spoon Walk, a playhouse and an outdoor classroom area. The completed project is already proving an invaluable asset to many of the 700-plus families supported by Christopher’s Shooting Star Chase and the organisation’s Head of Care CHR, Geraldine Sheedy, was full of praise for everyone who helped to make it a reality. She said: “The team were respectful to the sensitive needs of the environment they were working in and showed compassion and

understanding to the children and their families, encouraging them to observe what was happening in the garden and, where appropriate, participate in the project. “We now have an outdoor classroom, a wonky playhouse and an amazing sensory walkway for the children and families to enjoy when they come to stay at Christopher’s. This will add to the opportunities available for play and memory making.” Wooden Spoon’s involvement in the project began with a planning meeting ahead of an 8:30am start on the day. Volunteers were then briefed by their mentors before setting to work on laying the foundations for the walkway, sawing timber to the required lengths and even building the playhouse. Eight hours of hard work later and the space had been transformed, with the Wooden Spoon Walk curving through the recreation area and flanked by colourful sensory tunnels and kitchen garden planters. Jai Purewal, the charity’s former Director of Rugby and Community Investment, explained that it was a pleasure for Wooden Spoon staff to get the opportunity to experience the installation of such a worthy scheme. He said: “To be part of the team

“We now have an outdoor classroom, a wonky playhouse and an amazing sensory walkway for the children and families to enjoy when they come to stay at Christopher’s.”

IN GOOD COMPANY Shooting Star Chase is a leading children’s hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families. Christopher’s, which is one of two hospices run by the charity, first opened its doors in 2001. To find out more, visit shootingstarchase.org.uk

that in one day delivered the wonderful playground to the children at Christopher’s is something really special. Add to that the ‘spice’ of being under the watchful eye of the Fusion team and their exacting military standards and it makes for a truly unique experience. “It provides us with an opportunity to engage with our volunteers, our members and our corporate supporters in coming together as a team in getting our hands dirty and building something. “We’re coming together with people we’ve never met before and we’re going to walk away with a massive smile on our faces knowing that we’ve left something here for the hospice.” Wooden Spoon finance manager Ian Doorbar enjoyed the project so much that he hoped to get the chance to take part in a similar project in the future, adding: “It’s a great experience for us as a charity and individuals, it gives us a much bigger vision of the outcomes of what we’re doing.” ➤ To learn more about your national office team, visit woodenspoon.org.uk

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ENCAP in Northern Ireland has praised Wooden Spoon Ulster for playing an “integral” part in improving the lives of children with learning disabilities. The Northern Irish region donated £68,000 to fund a multi-sensory play area which was officially opened by Willie John McBride at the Mencap Centre in Belfast in April 2016. Speaking one year after the unveiling, Vanessa Elder, Mencap’s head of regional fundraising, said that the generosity of committee members including Chairman Peter Wood and Treasurer Tom Lyttle had helped make the charity’s move to the purpose-built Centre a resounding success. “It has been just over one year since we moved to the Mencap Centre and, whilst we moved only two miles up the road, our journey has been incredible and transformational,” she explained. “On behalf of Mencap, I would like to thank Wooden Spoon for playing such an integral part. “Our vision of the new Mencap Centre, with our children’s nursery at its very heart, only became a reality thanks to the amazing support of

FLASHBACK Irish legend Willie John McBride and Wooden Spoon acting CEO Sarah Webb open the sensory play area one year ago

“The Ulster branch of Wooden Spoon were instrumental in making our dream come true.” the public, notable individuals and organisations like Wooden Spoon. “The Ulster branch of Wooden Spoon were instrumental in making our dream of a new Children’s Centre come true.

Thanks to your fantastic fundraising and support, our centre now has a dedicated sensory room – the only one of its kind delivered by Mencap in the UK.” The Wooden Spoon-funded sensory room provides two- and three-yearold children with a learning disability with a tailored facility kitted out with specialist equipment in which to learn, play, develop and start to reach their full potential. Since hosting Ulster committee members and Willie for the official opening, Mencap has welcomed Wooden Spoon representatives back for its official AGM and committee meeting – something Vanessa described as a “small token of thanks” for the gift the children’s charity of rugby has provided to the hundreds of youngsters and their families who have used the centre in the past year. She added: “We cannot thank Wooden Spoon enough, but I would like to let you know that you have all made an incredible difference to so many children and their families. “On behalf of Mencap and the children you have supported, a most heartfelt thank you!” FUNDRAISING

DATA D-DAY IN MAY next year, the Data Protection Act will be replaced by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation – a framework with greater scope and much tougher punishments for those who fail to comply with new rules around the storage and handling of personal data. Wooden Spoon is not immune to this change and we are asking all our supporters to opt-in to continue receiving communications from us. We would love to keep in touch with you so please either visit woodenspoon.org.uk/opt-in or fill out the form on the carrier sheet you received with this magazine and post it back to us.


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CORNWALL CHIPS IN GOLFERS took to the greens of a stunning course near Bodmin to support the children’s charity of rugby at the Wooden Spoon Cornwall Golf Day. Greeted by glorious weather, teams of four fuelled up with coffee and bacon rolls before tackling the 18 holes at Lanhydrock Hotel and Golf Club. As well as attracting steadfast supporters, the event featured debuts from new teams and the region was delighted to enrol a number of fresh members – including ex-Bath and Gloucester scrum half Ian Sanders. The golf day offered prizes to the top three teams and also recognised the best score recorded by a rugby club, with Newton Abbot RFC crossing the border from neighbouring Devon to secure the honours. Wooden Spoon Cornwall thanks everyone involved in making the day a huge success, including the golfers, sponsors Barclays Bank and Mark Jago, The Co-Operative, Mark Richards, Lanhydrock and Graham Bond.



TEAM TNT OVERTAKE TARGET E NERGETIC runners representing TNT exceeded expectations at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. An 11-strong team had set themselves a target of raising £14,000 for Wooden Spoon by completing the world-famous course but smashed this monetary milestone with ease – collecting in excess of £20,800 for the children’s charity of rugby. Reflecting on the 26.2-mile fundraising feat, Katey Harding said: “I have never been a runner and, after months of training, I am

so pleased to have completed the Virgin Money London Marathon. “I was so proud to be part of Team TNT raising money for Wooden Spoon, a charity I am passionate about,” added the resource planner. “I really would recommend [the marathon] to anybody; it is so worth it – although I think it will be a while before I get my trainers out again.” Scott Upton, Ben Turner, Daniel Vines, Steve Brown, Allan Wood, Martin Mcquade, Jody Ricketts, Neil Powdrill, Tim Mueller and

“I really would recommend – [the marathon] to anybody; it is so worth it – although I think it will be a while before I get my trainers out again.”

Robert Crockford completed the TNT line-up. Sarah Webb, director of fundraising at Wooden Spoon, said: “We’re truly grateful for Team TNT’s marathon effort in going the extra mile for the children’s charity of rugby. “Congratulations to all 11 of the runners for completing the

course; doing so will help put smiles on the faces of children facing disadvantage across the UK and Ireland.” TNT, which also provided logistical support to London’s showpiece event, is celebrating its 21st year as a Wooden Spoon partner – an enduring relationship that has raised more than £3.7 million.


CHALLENGING COASTAL COURSE CONQUERED GOLFERS clubbed together to raise £5,000 for the children’s charity of rugby after heading to the coast to take part in a thrilling tournament. No fewer than 18 teams took to the fairways of Blackpool North Shore Golf Club for the competition, which was organised by Wooden Spoon Lancashire. Although the course itself was in

excellent shape, players had to do battle with the elements as strong seaside winds made for some challenging conditions. The keenly-contested tournament was eventually won by a team from Worcester Bosch Group, which returned home with the Wooden Spoon Trophy. Wooden Spoon Lancashire Chairman

TRICK SHOTS Spoonews columnist David Trick recalls his fall from golfing grace – see page 17

Martin Long praised everyone involved in the “successful event” and extended a special thanks to the competition’s sponsors Hargreave Hale. ➤ Interested in taking part in a future Wooden Spoon fundraiser? Check out our upcoming events at woodenspoon. org.uk/get-involved/challenges-events

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Former Bath star David Trick on how a fall from golfing grace helped him appreciate Wooden Spoon’s work OVAL rather than dimpled balls may have inspired Wooden Spoon’s creation, but it is the sport of golf that continues to generate a significant wedge for the children’s charity of rugby. It was an event at Farnham Golf Club in Surrey in 1983 that began the drive to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage across the UK and Ireland, and I’ve crisscrossed countless courses in the name of fundraising since. But while Wooden Spoon’s regions continue to consistently hole significant sums from their annual tournaments, my fortunes on the fairways have been far less impressive and many will testify that I am more of a hit-and-hope hacker than a pinpoint player. There is, however, one round that will live long in the memory for all the right reasons. I was invited to play in a Wooden Spoon event at The Royal Burgess in Edinburgh as part of a fourball with the club’s captain and Scotland internationals Andy Nicol and Gavin Hastings. It is a beautiful course and, as a true 16 handicapper accompanying three guys all playing off single figures, I feared the worst. However, I can only describe what followed as an out-of-body experience. I hit an absolute boomer off the first tee and the golfing gods continued to smile on me until I was back in the clubhouse. I shot somewhere in the high 70s and it was without doubt the single best round I have ever carded; one of those days when everything just went right. Although a first on the fairways, I’d experienced plenty such occasions on the rugby field with Bath; particularly during one 10-year period when we won

“In sport you can never predict when you will encounter a dog-leg in fortunes, which is of course true of life and why the work of Wooden Spoon is so vital.”

GET INVOLVED To find out how you can swing into action for Wooden Spoon in your area, visit woodenspoon.org. uk/get-involved/ challenges-events

16 out of a possible 22 trophies. We were obviously a pretty decent side but, just like my opening swing in Edinburgh, I always sensed early on in a match whether a game would go our way. The catalyst for this feeling was usually something that happened in the first 30 seconds following kick-off – seeing your number 8 absolute smash an opponent or a fly-half feigning a pass before carrying the ball for 20plus yards. Whenever that happened I knew we were going to win – you knew everyone was up for it. It was with memories of this extended purple patch in mind that, just one week after my Royal Burgess brilliance, I found myself squaring up to a golf ball at a Wooden Spoon Sussex event with an air of arrogance. Prior to that day, I’d spent my life evading questions about my golfing prowess – always opting for noncommittal responses such as “you’ll find out in a minute”, “who knows” or “up and down” – but I was so sure of a repeat performance that I brashly told all those on the first tee of the rich vein of form I was in. Predictably, pride came before a fall. Every single shot that followed was duffed, topped or shanked – I did everything bar hit a ball straight. To begin with, my teammates were really encouraging, but by the ninth – when I still hadn’t contributed a single point – it had reached the juncture where I didn’t want to talk to them and they certainly

didn’t want to talk to me. I had to wait until the 16th hole for any sort of respite. However, even then my first half-decent shot of the day landed squarely in front of an oak tree and by the time I’d fluffed going round it, overshot the green and four-putted, I found myself adding another 10 to my scorecard.

This dramatic fall from golfing grace served as a personal reminder never to get too cocky – doing so inevitably comes back to bite you on the backside. In sport you can never predict when you will encounter a dog-leg in fortunes, which is of course true of life and why the work of Wooden Spoon is so vital. For so many children and young people who have not enjoyed a fair rub of the green, the charity has become a trusted rescue club and it is thanks to you pitching up at our regions’ golf days that we are able to help so many in need.

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COMING UP From golf days to cycle rides, our regions host a huge range of exciting events each year. Below is a snapshot of dates for your diary – visit woodenspoon.org.uk/events for a full list 9 SEPTEMBER Eastern Counties Club Together Cycle Fundraiser clubtogethernorfolk.co.uk Devon Golf Day devon@woodenspoon.org.uk


13 SEPTEMBER Chilterns Hennerton Golf Club Charity Day chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk Chilterns Temple Golf Day chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk Wales IoD and ACCA Charity Golf Day wales@woodenspoon.org.uk

14 SEPTEMBER Wales Cricket Meets Spoon Lunch wales@woodenspoon.org.uk

20 SEPTEMBER Chilterns Rugby Club Golf Challenge National Final chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk

22 SEPTEMBER National Rugbyfest UK rugbyfestuk.com

24 SEPTEMBER Shropshire Rugby Festival at Telford Hornets shropshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

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National Wooden Spoon/Sunsail Sailing Regatta events@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chilterns Choir Concert at Beaconsfield School chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk



Yorkshire Golf Day yorkshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Devon Pumpkin Ball devon@woodenspoon.org.uk

Wales ACCA Wales Conference/Gala Dinner wales@woodenspoon.org.uk




Gloucestershire Max Boyce Live in Gloucester gloucestershire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Scotland Edinburgh Dinner scotland@woodenspoon.org.uk

Devon Christmas Lunch devon@woodenspoon.org.uk




Hertfordshire Golf Day hertfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chilterns Rugby Dinner at Bisham chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chilterns Carol Cruise chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk




National Scrum Dine With Me events@woodenspoon.org.uk

Gloucestershire Annual Dinner gloucestershire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Yorkshire Christmas Sporting Lunch yorkshire@woodenspoon.org.uk




Wales Wooden Spoon Wales & The Concrete Society Autumn Lunch wales@woodenspoon.org.uk

Lancashire Annual Luncheon lancashire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Yorkshire 6 Nations Dinner yorkshire@woodenspoon.org.uk



Surrey Rugby Clubs’ Curry Lunch surrey@woodenspoon.org.uk

National The Rugby Ball 2018 (see page 22 for details) events@woodenspoon.org.uk

Surrey Treorchy Male Choir surrey@ woodenspoon. org.uk

Wales IoD and ACCA Dinner wales@ woodenspoon. org.uk






20 SEP warwickshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

6 DECEMBER Sussex Christmas Lunch on Brighton Pier sussex@woodenspoon.org.uk

1 DECEMBER Warwickshire Christmas Lunch

For further details on all listings, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/events





COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE GSG MD Robert Berringer, pictured second from left, recently completed the Prudential RideLondon in Wooden Spoon’s distinctive stripes

DELIVERING CHANGE Robert Berringer, Managing Director of the Global Service Group (GSG) , tells Spoonews what inspired the leading contract distribution firm, which offers a wide range of services across the UK, to commit its support to the children’s charity of rugby... We trade fairly extensively as a business with [Wooden Spoon partner] TNT and a number of years ago they introduced us to, and actively encouraged us to support, the charity. That resulted in members of the company cycling from Rugby to Twickenham three years ago and during that ride we stopped at a barge that had been converted for children who needed wheelchair and special access. The experience was quite moving and it really stuck with us. We were genuinely impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the charity’s volunteers and with how small things can make a big difference to people. Just being able to get on a barge and go down a river was a life-changing experience for these children and Wooden Spoon made it possible. I am a big rugby fan, I have always played rugby, I am a member of a rugby club and my children play rugby, but – even though Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby and has very strong links with the sport – that is not the driver for me. What that ride enabled me to do was spend time having a beer and talking about the charity’s philosophy. I liked that it had

a high level of volunteers, was a very frugal operation and focused on keeping costs down and giving as much money away to the right causes as possible. I’ve got three children, twins who are 14-years-old and a 16-year-old. They are all girls and all play at Basingstoke Rugby Club. One thing we hope for our children is good health and when you see kids who have been served a bit of a tough hand, I guess being a parent gives you a bit more empathy – not just with the children but their whole family. Over the past 14-15 months we have formalised our support of the charity a bit more – as opposed to just being members and throwing a few quid in the pot and attending events. We now provide support with vehicles – one van has been decked out in Wooden Spoon colours and is theirs to do what they want with and we also provide ad-hoc logistical support to events. The charity is now part of our business culture; we encourage our staff to attend and support local events, our chairman, Gordon Weston, plays in Wooden Spoon golf days and I recently took part in the Prudential RideLondon.

JUST THE TICKET Wooden Spoon has again signed up to take part in the RFU Grand Draw and will be posting tickets to members in November. The raffle, which boasts a pool of fantastic prizes, last year raised £17,500 for the children’s charity of rugby. Email charity@ woodenspoon.org.uk if you do not wish to receive tickets.

HIGH ROLLERS A HOST of good causes are in line to join the scores of organisations to have benefited from the £3.3 million handed out by Wooden Spoon Scotland since its formation in the early 1990s. The region’s busy annual fundraising calendar of events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen has helped to transform venues, create new facilities and provide opportunities to children and young people across the country over the past two-and-a-half decades. And the future looks every bit as bright, with £125,000 already pledged to four exciting projects north of the border this financial year. The Yard, an award-winning charity that runs adventure play services for up to 392 disabled children in the east of Scotland each week, will receive £25,611 from Wooden Spoon to refurbish and repair equipment at its Edinburgh base. £25,000 has been awarded to Edinburgh’s Braidburn School to provide specialist play equipment in its secondary playground, while the same five-figure sum will fund kit and facilities at the city’s Broomhouse Centre, which provides invaluable opportunities for disadvantaged children. And a £50,000 donation from the children’s charity of rugby will help Glasgow’s Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice to provide facilities including two private bedrooms, a young person’s lounge and courtyard and a children’s bereavement room in a new state-of-the-art centre due to open in spring 2018. l A LONG-standing member of Wooden Spoon Chilterns has walked his way into the history books at the age of 80 by becoming the oldest debutant to tackle The Great Outdoors Challenge. Despite having no previous rambling experience, Alec Mudge raised more than £1,600 for the children’s charity of rugby by successfully completing the annual backpacking event, which involves participants walking from Scotland’s west to east coast. The energetic octogenarian took just over a week to cover the trek – which ranges in distance from 180 to 210 miles.

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Want to join our growing squad? Contact your nearest neighbour below and make a difference to the lives of children in your own community... BEDFORDSHIRE




Chairman: Oliver Richbell bedfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: David Eck london@woodenspoon.org.uk







Chairwoman: Julie Chammings guernsey@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Brian Hodges surrey@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Vacant bristolbath@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Roger Smith manchester@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Tony Wilkin hampshire@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Bob Rogers sussex@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Barrie Mair chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairman: Stan Bagshaw merseyside@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: John Batters hertfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Peter Wood ulster@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Alan Milliner cornwall@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairman: Steve Valentine northampton@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Allan Thompson isleofman@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Huw Thomas wales@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: John Cunningham cumbria@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairman: Anthony Stoker northumberland@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Roger Trower jersey@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Ian Holroyd warwickshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Roger Haywood devon@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairwoman: Diane Orson nottingham@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Richard Russ kent@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Phil Pemble westmidlands@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: David Gullick dorset@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairman: John Deeley oxfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Martin Long lancashire@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Gareth John wiltshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Mike Stephenson durham@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairman: Charlie Bryden scotland@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Malcolm Foulkes-Arnold leicester@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: John Gibson worcestershire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Séamus Farrelly eastern@woodenspoon.org.uk



Chairman: Glyn Dobbs shropshire@woodenspoon.org.uk






Chairman: Fergus Slattery leinster@woodenspoon.org.uk


Chairman: Stuart Watson yorkshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

Chairman: Tim Heal


Chairman: David Reed



Nowhere near you? If you would like to represent the children’s charity of rugby in your area, please contact regions@woodenspoon.org.uk


Autumn/Winter 2017



LONDON PARTY TIME The Churchill Arms in Kensington played host to Wooden Spoon London’s inaugural summer street party



OODEN Spoon London celebrated donating a specialist wheelchair to one of the capital’s “murderball” teams by raising enough funds for a second chair. The newly-formed region presented London Wheelchair Rugby Club with the first chair during its summer street party at The Churchill Arms. Located in Kensington, the pub, its patrons and then-landlord Gerry O’Brien played a significant role in raising the £5,000 required to purchase the wheelchair and again proved warm and generous hosts. Former England women’s captain Catherine Spencer (see pages 2630) officially handed over the chair to London Wheelchair Rugby Club Chairman Steve Palmer, who explained how murderball had given him a

renewed purpose after suffering serious injury. The event, which was attended by founding Wooden Spoon members Peter Scott, Steve Scott and Nigel Timson, featured a live Irish band, raffle and charity auction. With prizes and lots including a magnum of Winston Churchill’s Champagne of choice, Pol Roger, a signed Phil Vickery shirt and safari holiday in Kenya’s Masai Mara, the fundraising figure quickly hit the £5,000 necessary to purchase a second murderball chair. Wooden Spoon London Chairman David Eck said: “The street party was a huge success and I’d like to offer special thanks to Matt Mitchell from the charity’s national office for being a superb MC and to Fuller’s Brewery

for its support. With events now under our belt and projects being funded, it’s safe to say the London region is up and running and we are looking to expand our team of volunteers.” Anyone interested in joining the committee should contact David on 07976 287301. l YOUNGSTERS at a Middlesex school have a colourful new place to play thanks to the generosity of Wooden Spoon London. A donation of £20,000 from the children’s charity of rugby enabled Grangewood Special School, in Eastcote, to refurbish and enhance its play area, which was officially unveiled in May by former Wasps and England star Rob Lozowski. The playground, which has been named Spoon Hill, provides a safe, colourful and stimulating area for the school’s primary-aged pupils who have severe learning and/or physical difficulties. Spoon Hill’s development was started by assistant headteacher Caroline Aplin, who is involved with the mini and youth rugby sides at Pinner RFC. She brought her needs to the attention of David Hiles, the Club President and one-time Hon Secretary of Wooden Spoon’s former Middlesex region, who drove the project with the funding agreement of the London region. The playground complements Spoon Island, which was opened by Lawrence Dallaglio several years ago at nearby Coteford School.


ATHLETIC ALLIES TO JOIN FUNDRAISER’S MOUNTAINOUS FEAT AS this issue went to press, Wooden Spoon Sussex supporter Richard Tibbott was preparing to lace up his hiking boots ahead of a five-week, 800km trek over the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The children’s charity of rugby member will be joined for the duration of the Camino de Santiago, otherwise known as the Way of St James, by his

old Loughborough University friend John Caine – a former GB athlete who medalled at the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in the 10,000 metres. Further athletic support will arrive for the final fortnight, with Brendan Foster set to join the pair on Spanish soil. The former longdistance runner won gold in the 5,000 metres at the 1974 European Championships and also finished

on top of the podium at the 1978 Commonwealth Games, winning the 10,000 metres. Brendan, who claimed bronze in the 10,000 metres at the 1967 Olympics and founded the Great North Run, is a former running mate of John. Wooden Spoon Sussex Chairman Alan Jenkins and his wife Elaine will accompany the walker during the first three days of the trek – an arduous climb from St Jean Pied de

Port in France to Pamplona in Spain. Richard, who last year took to the saddle for his region’s Tour de Sussex cycle ride, is hoping his endeavours will raise in excess of £20,000. The money will be split between Wooden Spoon and Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of his late wife Catherine. Spoonews readers wishing to sponsor Richard can do so at http://bit.ly/2hN6KmZ

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The Rugby Ball Friday 2 February 2018 Building on the success of last year’s event which raised £120,000, we are planning another great night of entertainment. Join us and rugby legends for an evening of fun whilst raising vital funds to support children with disabilities or facing disadvantage across the UK & Ireland.



Book your table today:

e: events@woodenspoon.org.uk

t: 01252 773720




Since 1983, we have committed in excess of ÂŁ24 million to 650 projects and our drive to support young people has benefited more than one million lives. As projects approved for funding during the last six months, the following schemes, schools and services are set to further swell these numbers... EDUCATION

William Henry Smith School whsschool.org.uk Wooden Spoon Yorkshire

Autism Life Centre Trealaw autismlifecentres.co.uk Wooden Spoon Wales



Climbing Out climbingout.org.uk Wooden Spoon Shropshire

Castle Wood School castlewood.coventry.sch.uk Wooden Spoon Warwickshire

BF Adventure bfadventure.org Wooden Spoon Cornwall

Lowestoft RDA rda-east.org Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties

CDAS Wooden Spoon Wales

Castle Business & Enterprise College castlebusinessenterprisecollege.co.uk Wooden Spoon West Midlands

Halifax Wheelchair Tag Wooden Spoon Yorkshire

Joy Lane Primary School joylane.kent.sch.uk Wooden Spoon Kent

Churchill Park School churchillpark.norfolk.sch.uk Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties

Northgate School Arts College northgate.northants.sch.uk Wooden Spoon Northamptonshire

Riding for the Disabled 2017-18 www.rda.org.uk Wooden Spoon Scotland

Marks Gate Infant School marksgate-i.bardaglea.org.uk Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties

Churchill Arms churchillarmskensington.co.uk Wooden Spoon London

The Argonauts Wheelchair Sports Club facebook.com/TheArgonautsWCS Wooden Spoon Kent


Sunnydown School sunnydown.surrey.sch.uk Wooden Spoon Surrey

City of Edinburgh Wooden Spoon Scotland

HITZ 2017 premiershiprugby.com/hitz Wooden Spoon

Booker Park Community School bookerpark.com Wooden Spoon Oxfordshire Cadoxton Primary School cadoxtonprimaryschool.com Wooden Spoon Wales Camphill Community Glencraig glencraig.org.uk Wooden Spoon Ulster Friends of Braidburn braidburnschool.com Wooden Spoon Scotland Sir Charles Parsons School scp.newcastle.sch.uk/web Wooden Spoon Northumberland

The Yard theyardscotland.org.uk Wooden Spoon Scotland Three Ways School threeways.co.uk Wooden Spoon Bristol and Bath Ridge View School ridge-view.kent.sch.uk Wooden Spoon Kent

Combe Pafford School combepaffordschool.co.uk Wooden Spoon Devon Cranleigh RDA cranleighrdagroup.co.uk Wooden Spoon Surrey Dyslexia Day Centre dyslexiadaycentre.org.gg Wooden Spoon Guernsey


Exeter Leukaemia Fund elfcharity.org.uk Wooden Spoon Devon

3rd/5th Lancing Sea Scouts 3rd5thlancingseascouts.org.uk Wooden Spoon Sussex

Friends of KGV (part 2) kgv.gg

Wooden Spoon Guernsey Gloucester Rugby Community gloucesterrugby.co.uk Wooden Spoon Gloucester Hands up for the Beach maemurrayfoundation.org Wooden Spoon Ulster Imperial College Wooden Spoon Chilterns

The Broomhouse Centre broomhousecentre.org.uk Wooden Spoon Scotland The Dorset Destroyers thedorsetdestroyers.weebly.com Wooden Spoon Thames Valley Adventure Playground tvap.co.uk Wooden Spoon Chilterns The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice princeandprincessofwaleshospice.org.uk Wooden Spoon Scotland Queen Margaret University qmu.ac.uk Wooden Spoon Scotland

To find out more about the projects we fund, please visit woodenspoon.org.uk/our-grants

Autumn/Winter 2017




ROTTING onto the Twickenham turf in front of more than 51,000 fervent fans there to watch a star-studded Barbarians XV take on England, six-year-old Ted Mitchell could have been forgiven for feeling more than a little bit nervous. The Kent youngster was among those at the centre of attention as he paraded onto the pitch holding hands with French back Yann David and alongside Baa Baas including Thierry Dusautoir, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Frans Steyn and England players such as Chris Robshaw, George Ford and Danny Care. But according to dad Neil, Ted – who has the same kidney disorder as late All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu – was unfazed by the pressure of his spell in the spotlight. “On the day he was absolutely fine,” explained Neil, who was in the Twickenham crowd alongside wife Anna and daughter Daisy. “He’s a confident lad and there’s no shyness about him at all. “The only time he was a bit quiet was when he was in the changing room and got to pull on the Barbarians shirt for the first time as he was suddenly aware that it was all really happening!” The unflinching nature of Ted’s entry onto the hallowed HQ turf is in keeping with the character


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of a boy who has dealt with his medical issues with a maturity well beyond his years. Diagnosed with steroid-resistant focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) when he was 16 months old, he underwent a kidney biopsy at the age of two and has since learned to take responsibility for taking vital steroids and immunosuppressants. FSGS causes nephrotic syndrome, meaning Ted’s kidneys do not filter his blood correctly, and can also lead to fluid retention and high blood pressure. It may ultimately require him to undergo a kidney transplant, but Neil said that his son is philosophic about the condition. Neil told Spoonews: “He self-medicates and will sometimes suffer side effects, but on the whole he just takes things in his stride. “He has appointments where he is weighed and has his blood tested, but even that is done without any anaesthetic – he lets them just stick a needle in his arm and get on with it. “Ted is a really tough little lad – he’s even given himself the nickname of ‘The Brick Wall’ at football because he wants to play in goal!”

supported Wooden Spoon to get the Mitchells to the famous stadium. The family’s day began with the arrival of a camera team, which captured the experience on film, and included behind-the-scenes access at Rugby HQ as well as prime seats a few rows behind England coach Eddie Jones. The children’s charity of rugby, which Neil knew about through a friend who introduced him to Head of Business Development Ian Lindsay, also played a part in the match as a number of Baa Baas wore Wooden Spoon’s striped socks. Ted described the occasion as “a day I will remember for the rest of my life”, while Neil praised Killik & Co for the company’s role in making it a reality. He added: “Everyone was great. They dealt with the day really well and it is one of those experiences that you’re not sure will ever happen again. We were so proud of Ted. He was absolutely knackered by the end of it, but it was a brilliant day.”


Coping with FSGS has proven to be no barrier to Ted’s natural love of physical activity, with the sport-mad youngster packing swimming, gym

Ted’s star turn at Twickenham was made possible by Barbarians sponsor Killik & Co, which




After hearing about the bravery with which Ted Mitchell deals with a rare kidney conditi on, Wooden Spoon joined forces with Killik & Co to reward the rugby-mad youngster with a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity when England faced the Barbarians at Twickenham last May... and tennis into his weekly schedule, alongside being a member of the Boys’ Brigade. He became a big fan of rugby after watching the 2015 World Cup and he currently turns out for the Tonbridge Juddians under-eights side – despite being just six. He lists England and British and Irish Lions stars Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje as his favourite players, but Ted also holds a soft spot for one of the game’s all-time greats. “He’s a massive fan of Jonah Lomu,” revealed Neil. “We would watch YouTube videos together and I would explain that this guy has the same tummy issues. Ted absolutely loves rugby – he’s super strong, like a little bullet and has been to a few games.” Although the treatment Ted is currently undergoing manages rather than cures his condition, Neil said that the “fantastic” care provided by Evelina London Children’s Hospital allied to developments in medication are

improving his son’s long-term prospects. Whatever the future holds, the fun-loving youngster and his family refuse to be defined by FSGS. “It can be weird because on a day-to-day basis you’re not too fussed about it,” concluded Neil. “We found out when he was 18 months old and that’s when he did the grieving thing. “Now, four-and-a-half years down the line, we just take it as it comes. We treat Ted like any other kid – he can still be just as annoying!” ➤ To watch the video of Ted’s day at Twickenham, visit youtu.be/FOSQExUFx4o

“Ted is a really tough little lad – he’s given himself the nickname of ‘The Brick Wall’ at football because he wants to play in goal!”


Autumn/Winter 2017



CHAMPION OF RUGBY Whether winning titles on the pitch or championing good causes off it, former England skipper Catherine Spencer has made an indelible mark on the game she has devoted her life to. Spoonews caught up with the no-nonsense number eight to discuss her support of Wooden Spoon, the state of women’s sport and her thoughts on the caring nature of the wider rugby community...


HERE isn’t much that Catherine Spencer failed to add to her sporting CV during an illustrious career at the top end of women’s rugby. On the domestic scene, the combative English number eight lit up the Premiership with spells at Worcester, Bristol and village side Aylesford, which she helped to gain promotion as a player and kept in the top division as a coach. Internationally, she won three Six Nations tournaments, two Nations Cups, served for three years as captain and represented her country in two World Cup finals – the latter, in 2010, as skipper.

Her post-rugby life has brought further acclaim, with Catherine carving a niche as a motivational speaker and becoming an indemand pundit for a number of media outlets. But despite being able to call on memories of leading her nation into battle in the sport’s most-prestigious game or being awarded player-of-the-match when England ended New Zealand’s Black Ferns’ eight-year undefeated streak in a televised game at Twickenham in 2009, Catherine jumps to a much humbler part of her past when asked to recall her most memorable moment.

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“I will always remember the overwhelming noise and feeling of support, encouragement and excitement as we jogged back to our changing room.” “As crazy as it sounds, one of my favourite memories is from when I played mini rugby in Folkestone,” she revealed to Spoonews. “We were playing in a tournament and the ball was kicked towards me. “I caught it and just set off running. That was the first time I had done anything positive on a pitch and my dad and older brother, who were watching, were like ‘yeah, we think


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Catherine can play’! “There are of course other things that stand out. As part of a team, beating New Zealand in 2009 was massive. It helped to boost the women’s game and definitely helped to raise our profile for the World Cup the following year. “It was great for me personally, as it was my 50th cap, I scored the only try of the game and got player-of-the-match.

“It was a fantastic day in front of a fantastic crowd.”

CLIMBING THE LADDER The contrast between a mini rugby match in Folkestone and a televised international at HQ may be stark, but Catherine is proud to have earned her stripes by climbing each rung of the ladder between a grassroots debut and eventual England glory.

Coming from a rugby family – her dad and brothers all played the game – and having a fit and active mum, there was an “inevitability” about Catherine’s involvement in sport of some description. She admits to knowing that she would be a “rugby girl” from first picking up a ball at the age of seven, but her journey to the top of the game owes as much to her ability to keep her feet woodenspoon.org.uk

FEATURE representing your country, but being asked to captain it adds another layer. “I developed so many skills and it hugely improved my confidence as a rugby player, but beyond that it also made me a more confident person and leader off the pitch. “I took so much away from captaining my country and I’m really grateful for the opportunities and development it provided me with.”


on the ground as it does her natural talent. “At the time, all I was thinking about was making the next step,” she explained. “When I first started playing, there wasn’t the profile so I actually had no idea a woman’s team existed for England. “Because of that, I wasn’t focused on a big goal. It was just about progression – playing for a club, then my county, then a regional team and so on. “It became my normal life and it’s only since retiring and through

the public speaking that I do that I’ve been able to look back and understand that my journey really wasn’t that normal.”

SUPER SKIPPER One of the many extraordinary aspects of Catherine’s progression was her well-deserved 2007 selection as England captain by

then-manager Gary Street. Although she already presented an imposing on-pitch presence, being made the national team’s skipper gave her the chance to hone her leadership skills – an opportunity she naturally grabbed with both hands. She said: “It was fantastic, but it was also hard. It’s quite tough

Catherine’s three years at the helm of the national team took in a number of highlights, including the three Six Nations wins and the stunning victory against New Zealand at Twickenham. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, it is the fateful night in September 2010 when she led England out for a home World Cup Final against the Black Ferns that burns brightest in the memory. Catherine and her teammates had been gaining ever-increasing exposure as they bulldozed their way to the final, scoring 161 points and conceding just ten in the four matches en route, and they went into it hoping to take revenge on the Antipodeans for a defeat in the deciding match of the 2006 tournament in Edmonton, Canada. Unfortunately for the home fans at The Stoop and those watching on television, history repeated itself as New Zealand edged a close encounter by 13 points to 10. But as bitter a pill as the result was to swallow, Catherine left west London with a head full of happy memories. “I will always remember the overwhelming noise and feeling of support, encouragement and excitement as we jogged back to our changing room after we warmed up,” she enthused. “It was just incredible – the support had grown throughout the tournament and there wasn’t a seat free in the stadium for the final. Autumn/Winter 2017


“One of my standout memories was standing on pitch facing the Haka as the whole crowd sang Swing Low. That’s something I don’t think will ever be replicated for me.”

POSITIVE PROGRESS While modern women’s rugby is teetering tantalisingly on the edge of professionalism – a handful of England stars were handed full-time contracts for the year running up to the 2017 World Cup – Catherine played during an era when matches and training had to be juggled with day jobs. She could be forgiven for looking at the current crop’s conditions with a tinge of jealousy, but Catherine recalls having access to a sizeable supporting cast during her heyday, including conditioning coaches, doctors, physios, nutritionists, psychologists and video analysis. And she is cheered by the professional progression enjoyed by today’s players – even if, as she admits, there is plenty of work to be done on the pitch and beyond. “You have to look at it and think that having female players earning money through playing rugby is a fantastic step forward,” she said. “It’s an example of the improvements to the sport’s infrastructure. “Women’s rugby has developed on so many levels. Now you can go into any rugby club and even if they don’t have a women’s team, they know it’s an accepted sport and there’s a lot of positivity and


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encouragement of it. “There’s also girls rugby being played in secondary schools so they are supported and developed at that level. At the top end, you are also starting to see more and more games being televised so there is more profile and more people around the world can access the sport. “There have been huge changes from when I started, but I think a big push is still required because media coverage of some women’s sport is still very low. I can pick up a paper and read the sports pages and not see a single mention of a women’s individual or team sport. I don’t think that’s right in 2017. “We’re in a good place and we are very fortunate to have the opportunities we have in this country for women, girls, men and boys, but we need to keep moving forward.”

CHARITY CHAMPION Her playing boots may have been put away, but the “rugby girl” from Folkestone who scaled the peaks of the women’s game retains her love for the sport with which she is so intrinsically linked. Catherine currently serves as Director of Women’s Rugby at Old Elthamians RFC in south east London and was preparing to lead the newly-formed side into its debut league season as this issue of Spoonews went to press. The insight gained from 63 England caps has also made her an in-demand expert for the media and ITV tapped into that knowledge by signing her up as a co-commentator for its coverage of August’s women’s World Cup. Rugby also features at the foundations of Catherine’s charitable work – both through her patronage of the Tag Rugby Trust, through which she recently launched the Female Inspiration Through Rugby project in Zimbabwe, and with Wooden Spoon.

“Lots of sportspeople do good work off the pitch, court or track, but I know rugby and it is a special sport with a special set of values.” Like many people involved in the sport, Catherine has long been aware of the work of the children’s charity of rugby. She has generously given up her time to assist at fundraising events run by Wooden Spoon London and is proud to play a part in supporting the cause. She explained: “I think Wooden Spoon is brilliant. The way it’s run is so effective – it gets national recognition and lots of people have heard of it, but because it’s managed locally it means the funds raised can go to really important local causes that those people know and care about. “Those causes might not get the same level of help if they didn’t come under the umbrella of a Wooden Spoon region.”

COMMUNITY SPIRIT As a flick through any issue of Spoonews will reveal, rugby’s A-listers do not hesitate to throw their weight behind the work of Wooden Spoon. From current stars like Tim Visser and Jacob Umaga to veterans such as Maggie Alphonsi, Jason Robinson, our Lead Ambassador Phil Vickery and, of course, Catherine herself, those who have played the sport at the highest level are among the staunchest supporters of the children’s

charity of rugby. Such selfless service is common from international changing rooms down to grassroots clubhouses and Catherine believes that can be attributed to rugby’s communitycentred ethos. “It’s fantastic that Wooden Spoon receives funds raised through the rugby community, yet the money goes towards many different projects – not just sporting ones,” she concluded. “That shows the values and reach of the sport, which go beyond the pitch. “Lots of sportspeople do good work off the pitch, court or track, but I know rugby and it is a special sport with a special set of values. “It’s embedded in the sport and that’s why there are so many of those fortunate enough to play at a high level who are happy to use their profile, networks and influence to put something back into rugby and into the wider community. “People sometimes perceive rugby to be something that it’s not and Wooden Spoon shows that there are lots of ways to get involved without having to be at the bottom of a ruck!” ➤ Inspired to join Wooden Spoon? Sign up at woodenspoon. org.uk/membership woodenspoon.org.uk


From sensory rooms, specialist playgrounds and sports activity areas to respite, medical and community care.

Since our founding in 1983, we’ve distributed in excess of £24 million, helping over one million young people.

We fund around 70 projects each year that support disadvantaged and disabled children. www.woodenspoon.org.uk



Autumn/Winter 2017



“IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN WHAT HAPPENS ON THE COURT – IT’S LIFE, IT’S WHAT PEOPLE GET UP FOR IN THE MORNING.” BY HER her own admission, Gemma Lumsdaine isn’t the first person you would expect to be making waves in the rough-and-tumble world of wheelchair rugby. Competing at the sharp end of murderball, the Scot’s slight build is not typical of an athlete squaring up to the challenges of such an ultra-physical sport. But while the 19-year-old might be small in stature, a growing number of opponents are discovering that there is nothing diminutive about her fighting spirit. Spoonews caught up with the teenage sportswoman to find out more...

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the launch Pictured (clockwise from above): Meeting Paralympian Andy Barrow at part in a of Wooden Spoon’s Supporting Tomorrow’s Superstars campaign; taking “her rock” “murderball” training session; with mum Sally, who Gemma describes as

“Because I’m a girl and I’m quite small, people don’t expect me to be as violent as I am,” Gemma told Spoonews. “I really get quite into it. “It is violent at times, but I love the aggression that goes with it and the fact that hitting into people is part and parcel of the sport. It’s exciting and filled with adrenaline.”

SPORTING CHANCE Although Gemma is currently focusing her attentions on wheelchair rugby, her extensive sporting CV is a further reflection of her refusal to shy away from a challenge. From starting horse riding at the age of three to taking up swimming and moving into team sports, Gemma has never let cerebral palsy stop her from scratching her competitive itch.


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That drive saw her taking up wheelchair basketball with the Dundee Dragons – and it was through her involvement with the wheelchair sports club that she forged a bond with the children’s charity of rugby. The Dragons put out a plea for assistance in providing the specialist chairs required to play wheelchair rugby and Wooden Spoon’s Scotland committee answered the call in typically generous style, donating the £15,000 required to purchase five wheelchairs. Gemma explained: “When I moved into team sports, I started with wheelchair basketball. I still play it, but I found that my level of impairment meant some of the skills weren’t easy for me to do. “Then Wooden Spoon donated some chairs and it was because of

that I got into wheelchair rugby. It gave a new opportunity to people who struggle in some of the other sports which require more function. Now people who are more impaired have the option to get involved and excel in a fast-moving, intense sport. “I found that I really liked it – there are a lot of transferable skills and the movement of the chair and the way you defend are very similar. “I play a similar role in both so the transition has been quite good, but I have had to get used to the rules being different and to the amount of collision on the court!”

CHARITY CHAMPION With Wooden Spoon playing such a pivotal role in facilitating the Dundee Dragons’ murderball ambitions, Gemma was more than happy to return the favour when the children’s charity of rugby asked for her assistance in launching its Supporting Tomorrow’s Superstars campaign. The initiative aims to provide a chair for every wheelchair rugby club in the UK and Ireland and

Gemma joined star names including Phil Vickery, Tim Visser and Paralympian Andy Barrow to set it in motion during a glamorous event at The House of Lords. Just like the countless others whose lives have been touched by Wooden Spoon, Gemma needed no encouragement to use the platform to praise the charity’s work and to highlight the many benefits sport can bring to the lives of disabled youngsters in the UK and Ireland. “Wooden Spoon are amazing,” the Scottish wheelchair athlete enthused to Spoonews. “The work they do in getting clubs chairs is really appreciated because the equipment is so expensive, but it’s also vital how they have created integration and linked rugby and wheelchair rugby. “For me, sport brings physical benefits and helps to develop confidence and self-esteem. It was an honour to get to speak at the House of Lords and it’s something I would never have had the opportunity to do without sport.” As a key player for the Caledonian Crushers in Division Two of woodenspoon.org.uk


“Wooden Spoon are amazing. The work they do in getting CLUBS chairs is really appreciated because the equipment is so expensive, but it’s also vital how they have created integration and linked rugby and wheelchair rugby.” wheelchair rugby’s Super Series, Gemma is enjoying progressing through the discipline’s ranks. But, like all athletes involved in the game, any plans to reach the sport’s Paralympic pinnacle have been left facing an uncertain future after UK Sport pulled murderball’s funding ahead of the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Although grounded Gemma has resolved to “keep practising and seeing how far [she] can get”, the combative player was not afraid to share some strong opinions about the decision. “Honestly, I think it’s pretty bad,” she told Spoonews. “We’re just trying to get on with things, but people are really down about it because of the uncertainty over what the future will be like. “I don’t understand how they expect us to progress without funding. Taking it away is heartbreaking because it’s taking away potential and careers, especially for those higher up in the pathway. “I understand they have to save money, but this decision is about so

much more than what happens on the court – it’s life, it’s what people get up for in the morning and what motivates them.”

ENABLING AMBITIONS Gemma’s frustration with the funding cut has been amplified by the fact it has come at a time when disabled sport is occupying a prime place in the public’s attention. From the Paralympics in London and Rio in 2012 and 2016 to primetime television shows and coverage of elite-level championships in everything from swimming and athletics to wheelchair sports, a groundswell of awareness and interest has created ideal conditions in which to build on that popularity. “It has grown massively since London 2012,” explained Gemma. “It’s something that I hope will continue because it gives ablebodied people a chance to know about the sports and to see the massive impact it has on people’s lives. It’s a real step in the right direction in terms of raising awareness of the great things disabled people can do.”

Whatever the future holds for wheelchair rugby on a national level, Gemma insists she will continue to do her bit to promote and develop disabled sport – whether through her on-court exploits or the wheelchair basketball coaching sessions she runs for adults and children at the Dundee Dragons. And while support from the likes of Wooden Spoon Scotland combined with her own drive and determination will undoubtedly assist Gemma in her mission to reach ever-increasing heights, her sporting journey owes a continuing debt of gratitude to one equally-dedicated woman. She explained: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mum [Sally]. She drives me thousands of miles a week, helps me get in and out of my chair and gets my equipment sorted out. She’ll spend hours on the court with me doing passing drills and she’s also my biggest cheerleader.

“She’s absolutely vital in my sporting life and I like to think she enjoys it as much as I do and gets a real buzz from it. If my mum wasn’t the way she was, I wouldn’t be able to play or do as well as I have done. She’s a massive help and an amazing person.” ➤ To find out more about the Supporting Tomorrow’s Superstars campaign, visit woodenspoon.org. uk/wheelchair-rugby


G N I B B CLU R E H T E G TO ride Wooden Spoon bike een k betw creates common lin clubs county’s rival rugby


ORFOLK may not be a holiday destination of choice for hill walkers, but the lofty sum set to be secured for the children’s charity of rugby by a sponsored bike ride around the county suggests there is nothing flat about its population’s enthusiasm for fundraising. Despite not taking place until shortly after this issue of Spoonews hits homes and clubhouses, Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties’ Club Together event had exceeded expectations long before any lycra was pulled on in anger. The three-day, 320-mile tour of Norfolk’s 11 rugby clubs raced past its initial target of raising £50,000 back in May, with the county’s community and businesses quick to rally behind the ride. And with sponsorship money from the anticipated 80-to-100 riders and the proceeds of a sportsman’s dinner yet to be accounted

for, the final fundraising total could swell to a sensational six-figure sum. Such staggering support, however, has come as little surprise to Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties chairman Séamus Farrelly, who insisted that the pedal-propelled project had not been hard to peddle to either corporate sponsors or the many past and present rugby players preparing to saddle up. “I’m incredibly pleased but not shocked by the support we have been shown so far,” explained the ardent Ireland fan. “Every penny of the money we raise will be spent within the county and that has been a big seller. “A sense of community is important and aside from making as much money as possible to benefit local causes, that is one of the ride’s main aims. We want to build camaraderie between lads who knock nine bells out of each other from one end of a rugby season to another. This sentiment is shared by one of the cycling challenge’s creators, Mark Loveday (pictured left), who is a longstanding supporter of Wooden Spoon and completed the London-to-Paris bike ride with six friends in 2016 in aid of a number of Norfolk charities. “This year we thought we’d bring some scale to things and see how we could really make a difference to local communities,” the former player, president and now minis coach at Norwich Rugby Club told Spoonews. “We realised that Norfolk is a really big county geographically and

“We want to build camaraderie between lads who knock nine bells out of each other from one end of a rugby season to another.”

although it has a real rugby heartbeat, its clubs are disparate and very tribal. “So we thought, okay, if we can raise some real money and bring these clubs together with a common focus and at the same time promote a healthy lifestyle and positive way of thinking, then we will have achieved something really special in 2017.” With rugby at its roots, Wooden Spoon was a natural choice when it came to selecting a lead charity for the ride, according to Mark. The children’s charity of rugby will receive half of the total raised, with the remaining 50 per cent shared between causes nominated by the participating clubs. And like Séamus, Mark is delighted that Norfolk’s rugby community is clubbing together – whether by digging deep in their pockets or into their physical reserves. “The lion’s share of riders are exrugby players who want to make a difference, want to keep fit and need a challenge,” the former number 8 concluded. “There was a time and a place when that challenge was on the rugby field – but now it’s not because we’re all too old!” ➤ It’s not too late to show your support for the riders. To donate or find out more about the cyclists’ 320-mile route, visit clubtogethernorfolk.co.uk Autumn/Winter 2017



Fairways and fundraising have all made for a prosperous partnership, but Spoonews discovers how golf is also pitching in to drive Wooden Spoon’s vision of sport for all


T MAY often be lamented as “a good walk spoiled” and loathed by left-at-home partners, but golf has plenty of positives to counter any detractors seeking to cut divots in its reputation. And chief among the sport’s attributes is its ability to drive Wooden Spoon’s efforts to fund life-changing projects for children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage.


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FEATURE Despite being more commonly associated with pitches than pitching and putting, the children’s charity of rugby has always enjoyed close links with golf (see Rescue Club – page 17) and there seems to be no shortage of people ready to swing a wood in the name of Wooden Spoon. This year alone will see more than 30 regional competitions unfold and the money raised will account for nearly a quarter of the charity’s annual income (see Coming up – page 18). However, thanks to supporters of Wooden Spoon Shropshire, the sport is doing much more than just helping to hole a significant wedge.

TEE-TIME TRIAL Following a successful trial in 2016, the region has continued to fund weekly lessons for children with learning difficulties at the Shropshire Golf Centre that deliver on the charity’s pledge to provide every young person – regardless of their background – with access to the same opportunities. The impact of the weekly tuition, which is overseen by professional coach Mark Shervill, has been immeasurable, according to the father of one of the fledgling fairway fanatics. Ewen MacLeod, whose 19-year-old son has autism and difficulties communicating, told Spoonews: “Wooden Spoon’s decision to facilitate an introduction to golf for guys like Fraser has been fantastic beyond belief. “It would be hard for anyone to appreciate just how positive it has been on many areas of my son’s life. “Every week he looks forward to Wednesday evening and now wants to be able to play golf at home.”

“People can’t touch Fraser or he lets them know he doesn’t like it – everyone that is except Mark.” IN THE SWING OF THINGS While Ewen and wife Nina hoped Fraser may take to time at the tee, the Scotsman concedes to being shocked at how willingly their son has embraced his new passion. Autism can make meeting people for the first time

or doing anything out of the ordinary a challenge, but the teenager was unusually unfazed by being schooled at the Shropshire Golf Centre. “It is hard to know how he will take to new experiences because Fraser exists on planet Fraser, which is a very happy place. Occasionally we are invited to join him on it, but very few other people are,” explained the father-of-one. “Fraser’s autism means that team sports are just not on his radar, so when my wife and I heard about the golf sessions from Glyn Dobbs [chairman of Wooden Spoon Shropshire] we hoped that, as an individual game, he might take to the

sport and he has.”

WINNING COMBINATION Describing the input of Wooden Spoon’s selected coach as on a par with the generosity shown by the charity, Ewen – who owns a coach hire company and is a sponsor of the Shropshire Rebels special educational needs tag rugby team – added: “Fraser will always be on the periphery of things but he responds really well to the coach. “Nobody can usually get away with calling Fraser anything other than Fraser; you can’t call him mate or pal or he will pick you up on it. Mark [Shervill] is one of the select few who can though. “People can’t touch Fraser or he lets them know he doesn’t like it – everyone that is except Mark. “Mark is just very, very natural Autumn/Winter 2017


with him,” he said. “People generally step back a bit when they meet Fraser, but Mark just ploughs on through and does things like ruffle his hair.” However, as remarkable as Fraser’s acceptance of his coach is, it is the skills he has picked up that have impressed his father the most. “To see Fraser smiling is the greatest reward of all, but what really cemented the impact of golf in our minds is that when we look at our son, very small steps mean a huge amount to us,” Ewen explained. “When he plays he has to put his eyes down, focus and move the club to the ball. He has to concentrate and that is an immeasurable life skill that he is picking up and


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Pitching pioneers: Mark Shervill (fourth from left) poses with his first group of golfing graduates

in class a bit better these days. Is that down to golf? I would say yes. Even if that improvement is fairly small, golf is a huge part of it.”


something most people take for granted. “Fraser is just completing a

sixth-form provision locally and staff have commented – just off the cuff – that he is concentrating

And Ewen is not the only fan of the scheme who believes it is positively impacting on participants’ wider education. Sarah Bowers – a senior member of staff at Overley Hall School in Telford, which caters for children and young adults aged from eight-to-19 years who have a range of complex needs, including autism and learning disabilities – also credits perfecting putting with improving performance in the classroom. Commenting on the progress


FEATURE of three students from the residential school who have attended the Wooden Spoon-funded lessons, she said: “Golf has proved to be an excellent way to improve co-ordination and think about body awareness and movement. “It has been very clear over the weeks that the boys have made progress and it is unusual for our children to progress in such a short space of time. “The instructor, Mark, has a fabulous rapport with the students,” she added. “He is an excellent coach and has delivered the instruction at a level that the students can understand and so be able to access new skills successfully.

“I am delighted that Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby and not rugby’s charity for children.” “We have been impressed at how well our students have listened and followed instructions as this is not always a skill they show in the classroom. They have also shown the perseverance to keep trying and follow suggestions on how they could improve.”

SPORTING CHANCE Fraser has shown no shortage of commitment to improving his golf handicap and while his parents have modest ambitions for his

future sporting career, they remain grateful to Wooden Spoon for giving him a fair and sustained swing of the club. Ewen, who used to “hack around a loch as a youth”, admits to abandoning his own pursuit of dimpled balls long ago in favour of focusing exclusively on watching others throw around an oval ball, but is delighted the children’s charity of rugby has not followed his lead. “Thank you Wooden Spoon

for including kids like Fraser in individual sports and not confining yourselves to everything being rugby based,” he concluded. “Since getting to know the charity over the last couple of years, I like very much the fact that money raised locally is spent locally on projects like this. “I am delighted that Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby and not rugby’s charity for children. The focus must always be on the children.”

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MARATHON WOMAN When Gloucester RFC legend and Wooden Spoon supporter Martin “Speedy” Roberts died in April 2016 at the age of 48, his daughter Becky Stroud-King wanted to honour his memory – and support his charity of choice – in a fittingly-sporty manner. We caught up with Becky to find out more...


HEN Becky StroudKing was searching for a fitting feat with which to honour her dad following his tragic death in April 2016, her decision to tackle a marathon was perhaps an inevitability. Having grown up watching her father Martin “Speedy” Roberts tearing up and down the pitch at Kingsholm, it is little surprise that covering 26.2 miles emerged as the 24-year-old’s challenge of choice.


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Similarly, picking a charity to benefit from her marathon effort proved easy thanks to the legacy of her much-loved dad. “He had supported Wooden Spoon for years and had played for the team, so I knew I wanted to run for them,” explained Becky about her decision to raise money for the children’s charity of rugby. “I had been running for a while and it had become my headspace.

Every time I felt a bit pants or just needed to get away and think, I would go for a run. “From there, I thought why not combine the two and raise money for a charity that dad supported while clearing my own head?”

NO PAIN, NO GAIN Although fitness runs in the family

– her dad’s sporting prowess was well-known to a generation of Gloucester fans and mum Sharon owns the town’s Fitness 4 Females gym – running a marathon was still a daunting prospect for Becky. After signing up for one of Wooden Spoon’s spots in the London Marathon, the personal trainer set about preparing for the challenge of pounding the streets of



England’s capital. And while she admits that putting in the miles during the coldest months of the year was difficult, focusing on family was enough to keep her feet moving in the right direction. She explained: “I had always run, but I hadn’t entered events or any organised races before so this was a bit new to me. “It was definitely hard during the winter with the dark and cold evenings, but I was lucky because my daughter Eliza was small and she would get dragged out in the running buggy. “I would go out of the door with her with milk in one hand and singing nursery rhymes and that made it a lot easier to find the motivation to keep going. It was tough, but in a way it was a bit like therapy. It was totally worth it.”

LONDON CALLING Once her training was complete, Becky headed to London in April 2017 with friends Jamie Gamble – who also ran for Wooden Spoon – and Lauren Smith to take her place alongside 40,000 other runners on the start line of one of the world’s great marathons. Beginning in Greenwich, the race’s route

takes in many of the capital’s most recognisable landmarks, including Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and a spectacular finish past Buckingham Palace on The Mall. But it was the memory of her father – and the support of fellow runners, including others raising money for Wooden Spoon – that inspired Becky to power through mile after mile. She told us: “I was jittery as the race approached, but my friends and I had said that even if we had to walk, it would be an accomplishment to reach the finish. “I had my dad in the back of my head the whole way. He was so stubborn on fitness and training that I kept thinking I would have to get round because he would only have moaned at me if I didn’t! “The crowds carry you through it – you have little kids giving you high fives and random people cheering you. I had the Wooden Spoon vest and a wristband and I got a few cheers from the crowds. I also saw a couple of other Wooden

dad, who was born in Gloucester and played for the town’s famous club side throughout the 1990s, proud. “I think I would definitely do it again,” she concluded. “My husband is on the fence as he said it was harder spectating than it was doing it, but I might have to get him to try running it to see what he really thinks! “I would like to think my dad would have been proud. It was a relief when I crossed the finish line and it was like a weight had been lifted. All of his friends that knew him really well and who know me said he would have been proud. That’s nice to think.” Spoon runners and we patted each other on the back. “It was a surreal, phenomenal experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

FAMILY FIRST Becky’s debut marathon ended with an impressive finishing time of four hours and seven minutes and a total of more than £2,000 raised for Wooden Spoon. She has not ruled out lacing up her trainers again in the future – despite some reservations from her husband – but for now she is pleased to have done her

➤ Does Becky’s story make you want to take on a challenge to raise money for the children's charity of rugby? Check out some of the ways you can get involved at woodenspoon.org.uk/fundraisefor-us

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Emerging England and Wasps star Jacob Umaga has inherited more than just talent from his rugby relatives


HE intensifying buzz around Wasps prodigy and Wooden Spoon supporter Jacob Umaga is palpable. Amplified by an academy playerof-the-season award and a series of assured performances for England’s U18 and U20 sides, the talented teenager is already being loudly touted as a future star. Although talk of Test recognition has been earned on the pitch, public expectations of the promising playmaker are undoubtedly influenced by his surname.

BIG BOOTS TO FILL Umaga has long been synonymous with success on the rugby field. His father Mike won 13 caps for Samoa before setting up home in the UK while his uncle Tana played 74 times for New Zealand, captaining the All Blacks to 19 victories – including a clean sweep of the British and Irish Lions in 2005. While Jacob’s genealogy and continued development suggest a glittering career is on the cards, the 19-year-old is deaf to the din of premature predictions of super stardom and is quick to point out more modest aspirations. “Everyone knows my dad and uncle played at a high level and so I know that people watching me expect big things,” the utility back told Spoonews. “I can only do the best that I


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can do though, so all I focus on is putting in 100 per cent every time I run out onto the pitch.” Discussing his goals for the coming campaign, he added: “I am still part of the senior academy at Wasps. I’m young – so any involvement in the [Premiership Rugby] A-League or Anglo-Welsh Cup would be great

as it will be one step closer to the senior players. “No matter how long it takes, playing in the Premiership for Wasps will be a great achievement. It’s a really good club to be at.”

RICOH REVOLUTION Jacob’s tenure at the Ricoh Arena has certainly done his fledgling

“Everyone knows my dad and uncle played at a high level and so I know that people watching me expect big things.”

international career no harm. Two months after his switch from Leicester Tigers Academy in the summer of 2016, he scored a thrilling long-range try for England U18 against France in Cape Town and in February of this year he made his U20 debut in the 59-17 win over the same opposition at Exeter. Having established himself as member of the squad, he featured in four of England’s games at the World U20 Championship in Georgia in June, including the 64-17 defeat to New Zealand in the tournament’s final – a result which will have been bittersweet for uncle Tana. “He could have had two nephews playing in the final had my cousin not missed the New Zealand squad because of injury,” Jacob explained. “It’s hard to explain what it’s like having [Tana] as an uncle. It’s surreal. You hear people talk about him being a great All Black, but to me he’s just my uncle. “He messaged me after the final to tell me to keep my head up and focus on working hard in pre-season.”


Picture: Richard Lane

Tana may have set the benchmark for the Umaga family on the international rugby stage, but Jacob insists it is his father who has had the biggest influence on his sporting drive. “I probably look up more to my dad as a hero than I do my uncle woodenspoon.org.uk


Picture: Richard Lane

“Rugby has been part of me since I was three-years-old and no matter whether I am 45 and whatever league I find myself playing in, my desire to be part of that community will never die.” because I watched him playing more as a youngster,” he said. “I am also very close to him and can talk to him about anything. “My dad is my biggest critic though, he knows my game inside out and is always watching to see if I’m doing all the things I’ve been working on – if something goes wrong I definitely know about it!” It is his father’s counsel that first introduced Jacob to the children’s charity of rugby. Mike has a longrunning association with Wooden

Spoon and it is a habit his son is only too happy to pick up and carry through his future career. With his chosen sport’s values at the heart of the charity, Jacob said being part of the wider rugby family was a no-brainer. “Rugby has a positive impact on a lot of things in life – teamwork, communication and it brings people out of their shells. Rugby has been part of me since I was three-years-old and no matter whether I am 45 and whatever

league I find myself playing in, my desire to be part of that community will never die.”

ENGLAND’S GAIN Although Jacob is happy to follow in his father’s charitable footsteps, he has no intention of doing so when it comes to the national anthem he wants to be singing on the rugby field as a senior player. “I am England born and bred but I am proud of my other side – my Samoan heritage – and I talk to

dad about it as much as I can,” he concluded. “It was great to be able to represent England at the World Rugby U20 Championship as it has been a focus of mine to try and get into the U20s squad. “As a player all you can do is keep your head down. England are clearly looking at the progress of young guys like the Curry brothers and trying to get them into the environment early and if that happens to me in a few years that would be great.” Autumn/Winter 2017


David Endicott shares the tale of his transformation from reluctant schoolboy to specialist solicitor and proud model of Wooden Spoon’s sartorial style


WENT to a school where football and cricket were the only sports played and to this day, I don’t understand rugby.” By his own admission, David Endicott has a prop-sized hole in his comprehension of the rules of rugby. Fortunately, a lack of schooling in scrums did not dissuade David from nailing his colours to the children’s charity of rugby more than a decade ago,

“The number of people who come up and say hello simply because I’ve got a Wooden Spoon tie on always amazes me.”

GET INVOLVED To find out more about leaving a gift to Wooden Spoon in your will visit woodenspoon.org.uk/gift-in-wills or call Sarah Webb on 01252 773720


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FEATURE having been charmed by Wooden Spoon’s winning tactic of using sport to support children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage across the UK and Ireland. While David may still struggle with rucking regulations long after removing his school tie for the final time, the long-standing Wooden Spoon member has successfully redressed another shortfall of his student days. “I was a shocking pupil,” David confessed to Spoonews. “I walked out of the doors of Highbury Grammar School in the January of 1965 with three O levels – that’s it. “My parents lived in council flats and couldn’t really afford to have me at school and so I left. “I went to the youth employment office and said I wanted to work in a bank because at that time banks were seen as a job for life,” he added. “I was told there were no vacancies in banking and so I was sent to a law firm instead.”



SWITCH IN FORTUNES This chance change in career choice ultimately proved an extremely successful one. Demonstrating a dedication devoid during his academic education, David climbed the legal ladder from office messenger to solicitor – gaining the necessary qualifications by correspondence. After 26 years of operating in London’s West End, the leading private client lawyer helped set up Spratt Endicott Solicitors in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 2002 and now oversees a firm that has four offices and employs more than 140 staff. “I’ve worked incredibly hard to get where I am,” said David. “But I was very lucky to join Simmons & Simmons when I left school because they had a law library and a non-law library where I devoured books. That appetite for reading and learning has not stopped. “It sounds awful but I didn’t really like the discipline of school and couldn’t cope with being told what to do; but when I was left to myself I just got on with it and got all of the qualifications I needed.”

BENEVOLENT BOSS While David’s drive to business success required no shortage of self investment, the knowledge and prosperity it has brought have empowered him to help others. He became a monthly donor to Wooden Spoon after being alerted by a promotional leaflet to its track record for transforming the lives of children and regularly dons the charity’s distinctive striped tie. “A very dear friend of mine is a member of the

MCC and so occasionally I get invited to Lord’s for test matches as his guest and I make a point of wearing the tie,” he explained. “The number of people who come up and say hello simply because I’ve got a Wooden Spoon tie on always amazes me.” This sense of community among the charity’s members – and its ethos of spending money in the area in which it was raised – resonates with David, who ensures his own company is a good neighbour. Spratt Endicott is a sponsor of Wooden Spoon partner club Banbury and supports many local causes and organisations. The company’s staff also nominate and raise funds for a “charity of the year” and recently donated more than £4,000 to Katharine House Hospice. However, the benevolent boss was also quick to stress to Spoonews readers the importance of looking after their own financial wellbeing – if only to safeguard their future support of the children’s charity of rugby.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL... Sharing his expertise with fellow Wooden Spoon members, David said: “The biggest priority for anyone is to write a will. Only around 30 per cent of the country has one, which is crazy as in my view that is the first stage of proper tax planning.

“A year or so back I gave a talk to some delightful gentlemen,” he added. “Before I started my presentation I asked if anyone in the room would be happy for the government to decide where they went on holiday, where they stayed, how long they went there for and what they did while they were there. “They looked at me as though I was barmy, but my point was that if you work hard and create wealth and then die without a will, that is what you are doing. You are saying to the government ‘I can’t be bothered, you decide where my estate goes’.” David went on to explain that anyone with a desire to reduce their estate has a number of options open to them. The most common, he said, was for individuals to give money and assets away – on the condition they do so without strings – to family members and friends as, so as long as they survive for seven years after the gift, no tax is then due. “Of course, if you are giving money to charity, either while living, or as a gift in your will, then you don’t pay any tax,” he continued. “I have been writing wills for half a century, have written three books on them and overseen endless wills where money has been left to charities.” Although many people need little encouragement to give to a good cause, David explained that leaving a gift in a will can benefit the bank balances of both your chosen charity and your loved ones. “Under the current inheritance tax regime there is a zero rate on the first £325,000 of an individual’s estate but anything after that attracts tax at 40 per cent,” he said. “However, if you make a will and leave at least ten per cent of your estate to charity, the rest of your estate pays tax at 36 rather than 40 per cent; so you get a double saving. “Ultimately, making a will is all about choice – it is not expensive to do and in the grand scheme of things it can save tax, protect beneficiaries and your assets.”

STEADFAST SUPPORT With the knowledge to save others significant sums, David does not need to wear Wooden Spoon colours to raise warm smiles from his happy clients, but he has no intention of discarding his children’s charity of rugby regalia in the same speedy manner in which he cast aside his old school tie. “I simply wouldn’t dream of it,” he concluded. “What the charity does just appeals to me – it focuses on children, mixes fundraising with sport and does it so well. I will continue to wear the tie and try to spread the word among my rugby loving friends.” Autumn/Winter 2017


How will you be remembered? Leave Wooden Spoon a Gift in your Will and help us positively transform the lives of children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage now and into the future

Wooden Spoon is a registered charity in England and Wales (Reg No: 326691) and in Scotland (Reg No: SC039247)


t: 01252 773720


CHANGING FORTUNES Riding Arena steers Gloucester’s youngsters in new direction

A WHO Wooden Spoon Gloucester

WHERE St James City Farm, Gloucester

WHAT Funding for a riding arena where children can learn the basics of animal handling and grooming

HOW MUCH? £36,350

THEY SAID “Some children find they are at their happiest around animals and I’ve seen troubled children become quite centred and calm.”

PONY care and riding project part-funded by the children’s charity of rugby has become a cherished oasis for socially disadvantaged and disengaged young people living in the inner-city areas of Gloucester. Now an integral part of the Friendship Café – a charitable organisation comprising a youth and community centre and farm, the Wooden Spoon Riding Arena provides the opportunity for children who would otherwise not have the chance to learn the basics of animal handling and grooming through one-on-one lessons. Volunteer Tim Miller said the riding centre has had a massive impact on both its visitors and the local community since opening in 2014. “I grew up in this area and didn’t have horses to visit – we had a tiny little park overrun by drug addicts and that was about it,” he added. “To have something on your doorstep where you can see, groom and interact with animals is a pretty big thing for children who don’t get out of the city centre.

“Some children find they are at their happiest around animals and I’ve seen troubled children become quite centred and calm.” In addition to providing a release from the stresses of school life for the 250-plus youngsters who visit each year, the riding centre is helping to bring peace to its surrounding streets. “The arena mitigates trouble caused as a result of young people not having a place to go. It gives them somewhere else to be and something else to do – it’s a terrific resource for the community,” explained Tim. One of the many children to have benefited from the Riding Arena is Yvonne, who – having previously been with the same group of 30 friends since playschool – found the jump to secondary school two years ago a challenging hurdle. “The first three months were really hard for her,” explained the teenager’s mum. “Yvonne found it hard to build

friendship groups with her peers and make bonds with teachers so was unable to talk about her problems. After many meetings and discussions it was decided that Yvonne should find something to do outside of her comfort zone to build her confidence.” Her introduction to the riding centre and its four-legged friends had a dramatic effect. Within the space of 18 months, the quiet girl who shied away from making eye contact or conversation with people had a newfound spirit. “Both my husband and I can see a massive difference with Yvonne – her confidence and attitude to life have changed. At her last parents’ evening I was even told she has put her hand up in class to answer questions, which she would never have done before. “Yvonne is now talking about going to Hartpury College to do a small animal course and it is fantastic to hear her talk about her future.”

“I grew up in this area and didn’t have horses to visit – we had a tiny little park overrun by drug addicts.” Autumn/Winter 2017




Social inclusion scheme sees students’ skills soar


UST like the Premiership Rugby clubs responsible for its delivery, the Wooden Spoon-supported HITZ programme is in the business of results not rhetoric. Although focused on lifting the skills of teenagers not in education, employment or training rather than silverware, the nationwide scheme boasts a win rate any top-flight team would envy. Each year HITZ supports 400 young people by entering them into personalised study programmes or traineeships. An incredible 80 per cent complete the course, of which 70 per cent go on to achieve a positive progression into further education, training or employment. However, while such statistics speak volumes about the success of Rugby Union’s largest social inclusion scheme, they only hint at the huge impact it has on the lives of individuals. As Spoonews discovered during a visit to


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London Irish’s HITZ project in Reading, the stories of the names behind the numbers are as impressive as the programme’s form. Take 18-year-old Ben, for example, who was quick to stress that “being different is actually a good thing – no-one is perfect and no-one is normal; we are all unique in our own way”. The student’s wise appraisal of the world is all the more impressive given he spent most of his school years crippled by self-doubt as a consequence of his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and that his mother harboured serious concerns he would not live to see out his teens. “Ben’s got ADHD and has found life quite hard,” confided mum Joanne. “As a child he was very destructive – actions first, think later. “He used to hit out a lot, throw things and would dive down concrete stairs without

even thinking about [what he was doing]. At one point I thought ‘he’s not going to make adulthood if he goes on like this’. “He has struggled to believe that he is capable of doing things.” Ben’s already-fragile confidence was rocked further when his chosen college informed him that he would not be able to complete the second year of his mechanics course late last year. Fortunately for Ben, the “devastating” news served as the catalyst for his introduction to HITZ. Fast forward six months and the programme, which was set up in 2009 with the aim of using rugby’s ethos and role models to combat the challenges facing Britain’s youth, has had a profoundly positive effect on this particular youngster. “I am trying my best to get a future for

“I am more confident than ever, I’ve really pushed hard and gained qualifications... everything is going right and the way I feel now I just don’t want to stop.” woodenspoon.org.uk


POST-HITZ myself, a lovely job and make a home for myself, but without support I can’t do that,” explained Ben. “The HITZ programme has given me that support. It is a way of giving children that didn’t have the chance in college a second chance in life. “I am more confident than ever, I’ve really pushed hard and gained qualifications after three years of trying and I’m looking at a possible apprenticeship,” he added. “Everything is going right and the way I feel now I just don’t want to stop. Right now my future is very bright – I have many different pathways to choose from.” And Ben’s new-found positivity is shared by his family. “I have seen such a difference in Ben. He believes he can achieve anything now and knows exactly where he wants to be in life,” Joanne said. “HITZ is fantastic for children with any sort of disability – it gives them their confidence back and shows them that they can still achieve.” Ben is far from being an isolated case,

“It gives them the opportunity to rebuild their lives and get an education as well. HITZ has a massive impact on the lives of young people and could potentially change the future of a generation.” according to London Irish’s HITZ officer Ainsley Campbell. “I’ve seen HITZ change loads of lives,” he said of the programme which helps to combat issues such as crime, anti-social behaviour and fragmented communities by equipping its students with personal, life and employability skills. “Our lessons aren’t structured like a usual school’s would be – we have a little banter with the students and engage in fun activities. It gives them the opportunity to rebuild their lives and get an education as well. “HITZ has a massive impact on the lives of young people and could potentially change the future of a generation.” Priti Patel, former Minister of State for Employment, is among the scheme’s high-

profile supporters and highlighted that the values of rugby were fundamental to the project’s ongoing success. “They [the values] provide the framework for the young people on the programme – teamwork, respect, cooperation and understanding how you can work together to overcome big challenges,” the MP said. “There is no doubt that HITZ really supports young people by giving them the skills they need to help them get into the world of work. It is innovative, full of fun and importantly it makes a huge difference to the lives of young people.” ➤ To find out how you can improve the lives of children in your region, visit woodenspoon.org. uk/hitz Autumn/Winter 2017



Wooden Spoon Cornwall-sponsored classroom to cultivate greater career choices

T WHO Wooden Spoon Cornwall

WHERE Curnow School, Redruth

WHAT An outdoor education area for students that aims to enhance future employment prospects

HOW MUCH? £10,000

THEY SAID “All students will work cooperatively to manage the garden and enjoy the fruits of our labour.”


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HE children’s charity of rugby has provided young people studying at a special school in Redruth with a fertile environment in which to grow their employment and career prospects. Planting the seeds for students’ future success, Wooden Spoon Cornwall combined with partner club Redruth RFC to fund an allotmentstyle outdoor education area at Curnow School. The new facility, CurnowGarden, will see pupils get their hands dirty as they expand their business horizons by branching out into the worlds of fruit and vegetable sales and jam, chutney and pickle making. Neil Pellow-Firth, a teacher at the school, said: “The area will teach valuable work skills, but students will also be taught about farm to fork in terms of being able to grow food to eat a healthy diet. Students will be able to take home their produce and cook with them in school. “This will be a whole school project,

where all students across the upper school site will work cooperatively to manage the garden and enjoy the fruits of our labour.” It is hoped that the green-fingered initiative will help to counter statistics that show young adults and adults with severe learning, emotional and social needs are disadvantaged in the workplace. The issue is particularly concerning in Cornwall, where less than one per cent – compared with a national average of seven per cent – of those with severe learning needs have any form of employment. Money for the five-figure project was raised by Redruth RFC members, who completed a series of sponsored coastal walks that included navigating the full length of Cornwall’s northern coastline – a challenging 142-mile seaside tour.

Treve Dunstan, Redruth RFC’s chairman, joined Wooden Spoon Cornwall’s Alan Milliner and David Pooley at the official opening of CurnowGarden, which is the latest addition to the Cornish school’s fledgling business portfolio. Its creation follows the launch of a small workshop, CurnowCraft, that has allowed students to produce a range of woodwork items such as driftwood clocks for sale at fetes, town centre stalls and in Redruth’s Craft Collective shop. ➤ Interested in helping to transform the lives of Cornish children and young people with a disability of facing disadvantage? Contact cornwall@woodenspoon.org.uk for more details on a region that has already raised more than £120,000 to support community projects.

“Students will be taught farm to fork in terms of being able to grow food to eat a healthy diet.” woodenspoon.org.uk

FUNDED PROJECT Countess’s commendation: HRH The Countess of Wessex was the first official visitor to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s new £1.1-million education centre at Nower Wood near Leatherhead


Region dips into pockets to pay for pond and make nature more accessible

T WHO Wooden Spoon Surrey

WHERE Nower Wood, near Leatherhead

WHAT Funding for the creation and construction of an accessible dipping pond

HOW MUCH? £6,300

THEY SAID “We hope our new facilities will encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to come and get closer to nature.”

HE ripple effect of the children’s charity of rugby’s contribution to a woodland education centre will be felt by thousands of people every year, according to the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Wooden Spoon Surrey funded the construction of a dipping pond at Nower Wood near Leatherhead, which will open up the wonders of nature’s water worlds to new audiences – including those with special educational needs and disabilities. The pond has been specially designed to provide easy access for wheelchair and non-ambulant visitors and is part of a £1.1-million upgrade of the Trust’s facilities. Situated in 81 acres of ancient woodland, the new Nower Wood Education Centre houses three spacious heated classrooms, allowing up to 90 students to be accommodated at any time of the year. Aimee Clarke, the Trust’s Director of Education, said accessibility had been a key concern during construction

of the centre, which is expected to attract 15,000 visitors per year to take part in pond-dipping, bug hunts, wild play, mammal studies and environmental surveys. She added: “We hope our fantastic new facilities in the heart of Nower Wood will encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to come and get closer to nature in such a beautiful woodland setting.” HRH The Countess of Wessex joined schoolchildren on a minibeast hunt at the opening of the centre and met disabled adults exploring the expansive woodland. Speaking during her tour of the facilities, Her Royal Highness said: “Some of us had the opportunity growing up to access woodland and wild areas. For that opportunity to be given to children is so important, both for education but also as part of growing up and

allowing children to be children – that is something of true value.” Echoing the value of the support shown to the project by Wooden Spoon Surrey and other donors, Nigel Davenport, Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “We are so very grateful to everyone who has helped us reach our fundraising target – members, volunteers, corporate supporters and the Heritage Lottery Fund have all come together to turn our dream into a reality. “Education is at the very heart of the Trust and this new centre will help us continue our work encouraging a love and understanding of nature, so that future generations will be inspired to protect it. That is so very important.” ➤ For more information on Wooden Spoon’s regional network, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/near-you

“For that opportunity [access to woodland and wild areas] to be given to children is so important.” Autumn/Winter 2017


Lion mauled: Former Wales scrum-half Robert Jones proved a big hit with pupils at Gwyrosydd Primary School during his visit to the Specialist Teaching Facility’s new state-ofthe-art sensory rooms


Wooden Spoon Wales helps to ‘upcycle’ unused storage space into first-class facility

S WHO Wooden Spoon Wales

WHERE Gwyrosydd Primary School, Swansea

WHAT Two sensory rooms for the 40 plus students (aged between 3-11) attending the school’s Specialist Teaching Facility

HOW MUCH? £8,000

THEY SAID “You can see the children unwind – the rooms are benefiting 90 per cent of my class.”


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EEING unconventional structures given a new lease of life is usually the preserve of programmes such as Grand Designs and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, but students at Gwyrosydd Primary School no longer need to turn on the television for examples of how something unremarkable can become remarkable. Thanks to an £8,000 donation from Wooden Spoon Wales, two storerooms at the Swansea school’s Autistic Spectrum Disorder Specialist Teaching Facility (STF) have been transformed beyond recognition into state-of-theart sensory rooms. The new suites – one light, one dark – are specially designed to combine a range of stimuli to help those with learning difficulties explore, relax and play in a safe environment and are now in daily use. Explaining how the radical refashioning came about, Stuart Miller, a key stage 2 teacher at Gwyrosydd’s STF, told Spoonews: “We basically had two cupboards which were fairly big but not being used, so we looked into how we could turn them into something useful for our children. “We tried converting them into sensory rooms ourselves and although they were an improvement, they

weren’t really any good. “Anne Fellowes, our office manager, then found out about Wooden Spoon Wales and the work they do with children’s facilities around the country. Members of the charity [including former international and worldrenowned referee Clive Norling] came out to visit us and within weeks we’d heard the funding was in place and that the work could go ahead.” Fast forward six months and representatives from the children’s charity of rugby’s Wales committee returned to review the renovations with Swansea RFC stalwart Robert Jones. The former Welsh international – who was capped 54 times for his country, played in three World Cups and starred in the British and Irish Lions’ victorious tour to Australia in 1989 – braved the tackles of pupils to officially open the rooms. Stuart said the work would never have been completed to such a high standard were it not for Wooden Spoon Wales and was quick to stress that the miraculous

makeover had not only enhanced the school’s facilities but the lives of its statemented students. “Without Wooden Spoon’s support we would have had mediocre rooms with equipment that broke all the time,” he added. “Instead we have two rooms that are used two-or-three times every day by different children. “For some of the children in my class, the rooms can be used as an area where they can have time to be on their own away from the world around them – which is a sensory overload. “Going in calms them down, but for others the rooms can be used as an educational tool – for colour and number matching – as a sort of working classroom. The majority of our children need that break on their own or with a member of staff and the rooms give us a safe area away from others that we can use if a child is agitated or upset.” ➤ To find out how you can improve the lives of children in your region, visit woodenspoon.org.uk/near-you

“Without Wooden Spoon’s support we would have had mediocre rooms with equipment that broke all the time.” woodenspoon.org.uk


All smiles: Wooden Spoon Surrey honorary chairman John Inverdale was present for the opening of The Daisy Wing at Sebastian’s Action Trust’s The Bluebells Respite Home


Excellent extension continues to brighten families’ lives at Hampshire respite home

T WHO Wooden Spoon Surrey

WHERE The Bluebells, Hampshire

WHAT The Daisy Wing extension, incorporating the Butterfly wellbeing and counselling suite

HOW MUCH? £50,000

THEY SAID “These facilities prove vital for our grieving families.”

HOUSANDS of relatives coming to terms with having a child diagnosed with a life-limiting illness have been receiving brilliant bespoke care thanks to the Wooden Spoon-supported services of a specialist charity. A £50,000 donation from Wooden Spoon Surrey allowed Sebastian’s Action Trust, which provides holidays, care and support for life-limited children and their families, to add the Daisy Wing extension to its Hampshire-based The Bluebells respite home The new facility, officially opened in May 2016, includes the Butterfly wellbeing and counselling suite, which by March this year had welcomed 3,289 day visitors, allowing 181 families to spend time together, access information about everything from available services to financial entitlement and crucially receive support in the event of bereavement. Sebastian’s Action Trust, which was founded by Jane Gates OBE in memory of her son who died aged 11, uses the suite as part of its comprehensive service in supporting families through diagnosis, treatment and bereavement. The charity refers to children who pass away as Butterflies, with their relatives welcomed as Butterfly

Families. They are able to use the suite as a safe place to reflect, grieve and talk to each other or trained outreach workers. For the Barratt family, the suite proved invaluable before and after their five-year-old daughter Kayleigh passed away from Mitrochrondial Disease in June 2016. The Barratts were familiar with Sebastian’s Action Trust, having approached the charity when it was anticipated that Kayleigh only had a year to live, and had benefited from emotional backing from outreach workers, help at hospital appointments and sibling support for younger sister Daisy. Parents Lorraine and Johnny used the Butterfly Suite to work with staff in creating an advanced care plan and they were frequent visitors to the facility as they prepared for Kayleigh’s passing in a quiet, comfortable and respectful environment. A charity spokesman commented: “These facilities prove vital for our grieving families. “When they are at home, they are surrounded by memories of their

loved one and may have to deal with visitors, calls and general everyday routines. “By providing a suite such as our Butterfly Suite, the families are given the opportunity to escape all of the distractions of home to help their grief, even if only for a while.” Once Kayleigh lost her brave battle, the Barratts were able to continue making use of the Butterfly Suite to plan the funeral and discuss holding a celebration of life event in The Bluebells’ Remembrance Garden. Lorraine still meets with her outreach worker in the Suite and the Barratts were even introduced to another family whose son suffered from the same condition as Kayleigh. All of this vital help stems from the support of Wooden Spoon Surrey and was made possible after the captains of Wentworth Golf Club’s men’s and women’s teams picked Wooden Spoon as their charity of the year. Members of the Surrey committee and golfers jointly agreed to support Sebastian’s Action Trust after being thoroughly impressed with the charity following meetings with Jane Gates.

“By providing a suite such as our Butterfly Suite, families are given the opportunity to escape all of the distractions of home to help their grief, even if only for a while.” Autumn/Winter 2017



...comin’ for to carry me home. Spoonews takes a spin in Volvo’s V90 D5 and discovers a means of mitigating match-day risks


UGBY does not hold a monopoly on bumps, bruises and breaks, but all those who have played full-contact versions of union and league will testify that taking to the field is not without its risks. While self-preservation on a pitch can be difficult, getting to and from matches should at least provide a refuge from the physical rigours of rucking and it was with securing a safe passage in mind that Spoonews slipped behind the wheel of a Volvo V90 D5. To judge a car predominantly on its ability to bubble wrap its driver and passengers from harm may border on the behaviour of the overly-cautious, but the abundance of safety features squeezed into this Swedish carriage deserve fawning over. Indeed, those rugby traditionalists who view gum shields and body armour as “health and safety gone mad” should avert their eyes now as the V90 takes very seriously its manufacturer’s vision that no one should be killed or seriously injured in one of its new cars by the year 2020. Airbags certainly seem an antiquated concept when you begin assessing the lengths to which Volvo has gone to protect those in and around its executive estate. Even the most tech-averse motorists will quickly be won over by the D5’s optional Blind Spot Information System, which discreetly


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“City Safety is less trusting of drivers’ reactions and will automatically perform an emergency stop should any prop-esque, immovable obstacles come too close for comfort.”

warns the driver of any vehicles lurking unsighted as they overtake or undertake by illuminating the outer edge of the respective wing mirror. However, making motorway and dual carriageway driving less stressful is just scratching the surface of the state-of-the-art safety intelligence installed as standard in every V90. A simple push of a button on the left-side of the steering wheel – which was heated in the top-of-the-range PowerPulse AWD Inscription model tested by Spoonews – activates Volvo’s Pilot Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. This semi-autonomous technology provides steering, accelerating and braking support up to speeds of 80mph and makes volunteering to be a nominated driver for long away trips a far more appealing proposition. Easy to override with the touch of a pedal, the system keeps the car at a safe distance from the vehicle in front and, on roads with clear markings, in the centre of the lane. City Safety, the V90’s suite of collisionavoidance functionalities, is less trusting of drivers’ reactions and will automatically perform an emergency stop should cyclists, pedestrians or any prop-esque, immovable obstacles come too close for comfort. Throw in front seatbelts that tighten if the car is detected leaving the road and an



Excellent exports: Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimović poses alongside the V90

optional 360-degree parking camera and this Volvo excels at ensuring it and its passengers arrive for fixtures scratch-free. Such self-preservation measures will of course be warmly welcomed by D5 owners – and not just because buying one will have set them back in the region of £45,000. Far removed from its cumbersome and boxshaped forebears, this next-generation Volvo is fully-deserving of its protected existence. Its sleek styling, clean lines and luxurious interior scream up-market motor and the D5’s PowerPulse diesel engine delivers the performance one would expect from its price tag and is capable of racing to 62mph from a

“Far removed from its cumbersome and boxshaped forebears, this next-generation Volvo is fully-deserving of its protected existence – its sleek styling, clean lines and luxurious interior scream upmarket motor.”

standing start in just 7.2 seconds. The V90 is also incredibly economical for an estate, boasting a fuel consumption rate of 57.6mpg despite its considerable weight. If there is a criticism to be levelled at the D5, it is that its boot is not as cavernous as you may expect. A compromise of the car’s attractive rear curves, the Volvo has noticeably less luggage space than other models on the market. That said, the D5 still has more than enough boot to accommodate a squad’s boots and – given its suite of safety features – the team’s first aid kit will not need to be within immediate reach until after kick-off.

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Age may not be on its side, but the National Trust’s Bodysgallen Hall can still compete with its contemporary rivals in the comfort stakes


T THE elite levels of the game, there is no doubting that the lot of the rugby supporter has been greatly enhanced by the evolution of stadium design. Obscured views from crumbling terraces and antiquated tea huts and toilet blocks are becoming increasingly rare features of the modern match-day experience, having been replaced by panoramic positions and an array of fantastic facilities for fans to enjoy. There are, however, those who argue that better seats are not the be-all-and-end-all; supporters who pine for the peculiarities of provincial grounds and regard unsymmetrical stands and refreshments served in mugs as cherished characteristics of the clubs and sport they love. Indeed, for all the comfort they offer, socalled identikit stadiums are certainly not to everyone’s tastes. The same is true of the wealth of modern five-star hotels vying


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for the business of travelling fans seeking a preor post-match stopover. Roaming rugby supporters with a preference for lavish lobbies and high-sheen, spacious suites are incredibly well-served, but what about those who desire an equal measure of character with their comfort? Visitors to the Principality Stadium or the homes of the Pro12 League’s Welsh quartet who are minded to explore Wales’ north coast can find one such compromise. Bodysgallen Hall – a Grade 1-listed house standing in 200 acres of its own parkland on a hillside above the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno – can certainly not be accused of sacrificing any charm for the sake of clean lines. The 17th century country house, which has been sympathetically restored by Historic House

Hotels since 1980 and was given to the National Trust nine years ago, is impressively imperfect. As is befitting its heritage, Bodysgallen wears its uneven floors and oak panelled walls like a badge of honour. There is little uniformity to be found in the property’s DNA but that does little to detract from its splendour and warm opulence. Each of the hotel’s 15 bedrooms – four of which are suites – are individually decorated and the Hall’s large entrance hall, dining room, bar and first-floor drawing room all have distinct identities thanks to the unique antiques and fine pictures that populate them. Furthermore, the Bodysgallen estate is peppered with picturesque private cottages – 16 in all – that provide self-contained accommodation for guests seeking serenity in a setting far removed from the sterility of a standard hotel room.



That is not to say the Hall is devoid of the symmetry and straight lines afforded by the majority of its modern-day peers – there are plenty to be found in the beautiful grounds, which boast box hedges filled with sweetscented herbs, walled rose gardens and manicured lawns. The landscaped gardens are worth a visit in themselves and provide a perfect frame to the castle town of Conwy and mountains of Snowdonia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hall’s richness of character extends to its staff. Politeness and attentiveness is a given in most establishments, but the men and women of Bodysgallen take an obvious pride in their service and surroundings. The head porter, for example, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the house’s history having worked there for 21 years and is ever happy to impart pearls from its past if prompted – all while pouring a pre-dinner gin and tonic or guiding guests to their rooms. This continuity and excellence of service is also evident in Bodysgallen’s dining room, where the long-serving restaurant manager oversees an incredibly slick operation that is only surpassed in quality by the food. Prepared by award-winning chef John Williams, sublime dishes – such as poached and grilled Gressingham duck with compressed pear, home-smoked Welsh feta and sticky red cabbage – showcase fresh local produce

Impressively imperfect: A photographic tour of Bodysgallen Hall’s character-filled rooms (above and below right); the swimming pool found within the hotel’s health and fitness spa (right); and the house’s landscaped gardens (below)

whenever possible. The high-end cuisine demonstrates beyond debate that “quirks” do not have to come at the detriment of luxury, as does the pampering on offer at the hotel’s health and fitness spa. Guests are granted unlimited use of the spa, which features a large swimming pool, spa bath, steam room and sauna and is home to five beauty treatment rooms. And if rest and relaxation don’t appeal, then there is a

fully-equipped gymnasium for those keen to maintain their match fitness. Bodysgallen may be closer in age to The Gnoll – which has hosted rugby matches in Wales since 1871 – than Cardiff’s £121-million Principality Stadium, but it meets all expectations of modern comfort. Above all else, this National Trust hotel reinforces the sentiment that some traditional builds deserve to be treasured.

“There is little uniformity to be found in the property’s DNA but that does little to detract from its splendour and warm opulence.” Autumn/Winter 2017