Spoonews Summer 2023

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Summer 2023

jamie roberts

Wooden Spoon teams up with The Lions Trust

SArah Bern

Playing rugby, pushing boundaries and fundraising


Our rugby family unites to feed the nation

Together Wooden Spoon, Rugby works and School of Hard Knocks are hosting

The Great Big Rugby Lunch

Date: 26th January 2024

Venue: The Brewery, 52 Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SD

Join us and a host of Rugby Legends.

For more information email Danni on events@woodenspoon.org.uk


16 Projects:

17 Projects: Harry Johnson Trust

18 Projects: Ruddi’s Retreat

19 Fusion Builds

20 Interview: Jamie Roberts

22 Ruby Rugby Ball

24 Interview: Sarah Bern

26 Your Fundraising

3 32 Events Calendar
Tributes 35 Rugby
The Outlook Trust
CONTENTS 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 on page 32 and at woodenspoon.org.uk/near-you
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Registered address: Sentinel House, Ancells Business Park, Harvest Crescent, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UZ Charity Registration No: 326691 (England & Wales) and SCO39247 (Scotland)
28 Across the Regions
with Autism
30 John Sumnall Retires 7 Living
8 Rugby School 9 Team Players 10 Pass the Plate 12 Projects: Renfrew YMCA 13 Projects: Mill Water School 14 Projects: We Are Beams 15 Projects: STARS Edible Garden

Join us for an epic 222-mile challenge

Rugbytots Stadium tour

bike ride in aid of Wooden Spoon


September 2023

Join us for 3 days of Fun, Friendship and Fundraising in aid of Wooden Spoon to support vulnerable children across the UK and Ireland that need our help


Day 1: Setting off from Sandy Park, home to Exeter Chiefs, to Wells Day 2: Wells to Kingsholm, the home of Gloucester Rugby Club with stops at The Rec, Bath and Ashton Gate, Bristol Day 3: Kingsholm to The Principality Stadium in Cardiff

For more information and to sign up, please visit: pieevents.co.uk/events/rugbytots-stadium-tour-in-aid-of-wooden-spoon

Milestones & celebrations!

It’s 40 years since England lost that historic game against Ireland, which led to our very first charity event. In that time, Wooden Spoon’s made such a difference to so many lives, and I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved. It’s even more special that our anniversary coincides with 200 years of rugby.

The Ruby Rugby Ball kicked off our 40th year in style, with guest speaker Maddie stealing the show as she shared how Wooden Spoon has transformed her life. While Easter saw us celebrating both milestones with our partners, the Rugby School. It was fantastic to watch so many young teams playing on the hallowed turf at The Close.

We’ve got even more sporting events to come. For keen cyclists, the Rugbytots ride again, so get on your bike for the Stadium Tour. The Youngs Partnership has a whole host of events to support great causes, including Dogs for Good, School of Hard Knocks, Brave Mind, Maddy’s Mark and Wheelchair Rugby. And with the continued success of the men’s Spoon vets’ team, we’re calling for women players to sign up for our new British & Irish women’s vets team.

It really is a fantastic time for women’s rugby right now. I felt so lucky to watch the Red Roses celebrate their Grand Slam Six Nations win – it was so exciting to witness such a special moment in history.

A big thanks to former Red Rose and Wooden Spoon ambassador, Shaunagh Brown, who is teaming up with us to launch a new initiative, Pass the Plate. As the cost-of-living crisis grows, we will be fundraising hard to get food to those who need it most.

And to top it all off, I’m over the moon to announce that we are partnered with the British & Irish Lions again. We can’t wait to build on the great work we’ve done already and make our 40th year one to truly remember.

Thank you to all our brilliant volunteers, who continue to give up their time to support our events, we couldn’t do it without you.

5 welcome
Image: RFU Collection via Getty Images

It’s incredible to think that 40 years ago, England’s woeful performance in the 1983 Five Nations Championship (as it was then) created the wonderful legacy we’re still fulfilling today – to positively transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people across the UK and Ireland.

In the last40 years,

£31 million we have granted more than

projects, 1,465 to more than

helping 1.5 million

children and young people

our number one writer

Talented young writer, Connor, is proud to see the story he entered in a competition published in a new book inspired by numbers, Integer –Tales of Adventure.

Sam’s parent checklist

• EHCP – this plan will follow your child throughout their school life and will list the support they need and requirements that must be met by the school.

• DLA (Disability Living Allowance) –if you need to help your child get ready and safely cross the road, or need to buy specific clothing, then apply for extra money to help with this.

ruby anniversary 6 woodenspoon.org.uk
Connor with mum Sam

Connor was diagnosed with autism in 2019. His mum, Sam, is our Senior Regional Executive on the National Team and she shares her experiences: “I first heard the word autism when Connor was three. At primary school he had regular meltdowns and was excluded a number of times. The embarrassment I felt was awful. I phoned CAMHS, but he was not seen as a priority.”

When Connor had an assessment at junior school, support and an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) were put in place. Connor is now thriving at secondary school, and he is thrilled to see his story published.

Sam continues: “It allows him to live a normal life. It was a huge sigh of relief, dealing with this sort of stress takes its toll on all aspects of your life.

“Connor is a happy, outgoing young boy, who loves to tell jokes. His passion is cars, he loves the workings of cars and machines. He also has an incredible memory.

“If your child isn’t emotional or cuddly, it can be difficult, but they will show you love in their own way. You need an incredible amount of patience.

“Your child thinks in a different way and may need extra prompts and support to get normal daily tasks done. But once you find out what works for them, they will thrive.”

• Access card – for theme parks, cinemas, restaurants, discounts on tickets and free carers passes, and makes others aware of their additional needs.

• Autism friendly events – such as autism friendly screenings at cinemas or quiet hours in shops. Many places are becoming more aware of the additional needs of Autism and are more accommodating.

Living with autism

Connor’s 100-word story


I was driving my 2003 Vauxhall Astra on the road

A2003. I saw a sign with 2003, then I remembered I was born in 2003. I thought the number 2003 haunted me and it was then I saw a glimpse of the graveyard of 2003. At this point I just wanted to get home to 2003 Greenfields Avenue. Then, worryingly, I saw my car’s odometer climb to 2003 miles. Just then, I knew that my gate was near when my car and I flew off a towering cliff 2003 metres high…

Spoonews asked Connor...

What is it like living with autism?

“People treat me differently because I act differently.

I struggle to stay focused unless it’s something I’m interested in.

I don’t like crowded spaces or loud noises, so the school corridors are overwhelming.”

What are the positives of autism?

“Because of my autism I can retain information, and I have a big imagination.”

How do you feel about having your story published?

“I feel proud to have achieved something and I’m going to be famous… one day… probably.”

Connor with the book his story is published in Connor Mead (12), Amery Hill School

‘egg’Cellent FundrAISER!

As part of our 40th year celebrations, rugby festivals were held at the iconic Rugby School, where the game was created 200 years ago. The festivals ran over the Easter weekend; Good Friday U9s, Saturday U11s, and Easter Monday Vets. Thank you to all our volunteers for such a wonderful event, which

8 woodenspoon.org.uk Rugby School
Save the date for the next Rugby School event on 24 June

Getting off the ground

Project inspectors are a vital link in the approval process of the grants we award. Spoonews hears from four of our dedicated volunteers.

Steuart Howie

“Visiting these projects to meet some of the children we help, and speaking to the caring staff who look after them, is by far the best part of being a project inspector.

“I am always humbled by the dedication of the people I meet and grateful that our funds can help so many vulnerable children.

Phil Pemble

“I believe the role of an inspector is to provide the conduit between the potential beneficiary and the region. To be independent and unbiased in understanding how we can help while providing best value for our fundraisers.

“I’ve never failed to be impressed by the dedication of the applicants on a visit and have met with some incredible young people, nothing can replace meeting and talking with beneficiaries and supporters on site.”

Richard Smith

“It’s a privilege to meet a wide variety of people who dedicate their time to helping young people, many of whom face daunting challenges in their lives.

“The role provides me with a welcome opportunity to meet fellow volunteers in other regions. Understanding

the context of the project, the circumstances of the beneficiary organisation and how Wooden Spoon can make a difference, is all part of the due diligence process.”

Bruce Allison

“It is a delight to carry out project inspections which I began a few years ago. I see my role as the catalyst

to ensure the project is approved by the trustees, having been put forward by the region. Best part of the role is attending project openings to meet the young people and their parents/ carers who are benefitting from our fundraising.”

“It’s a privilege to meet a wide variety of people who dedicate their time to helping young people, many of whom face daunting challenges in their lives.”
Richard Smith

We are looking for Project Inspectors, if this is something that interests you then please do get in touch: projects@woodenspoon.org.uk

9 team players

Wooden Spoon tackles hunger with Pass the Plate initiative

Kicked off by a hugely generous donation from our wonderful supporters Graham and Amy Allen, Wooden Spoon has launched the ‘Pass the Plate’ initiative, helping families put food on their table.

It is clear the continuing rising cost of living is putting extreme pressure on vulnerable families and individuals – with increased numbers of people turning to their local food banks to keep their loved ones fed.

In response, we have launched the Pass the Plate initiative to appeal for more funds via the rugby family. Wooden Spoon Ambassador, and recently retired Red Rose, Shaunagh Brown is proud to head up the campaign.

Shaunagh, who has won four Women’s Six Nations titles and the Premier 15s title with Quins, as well as competing at the World Cup, said: “Food poverty is such an important issue

in the UK and something I’m very passionate about. Through working with Wooden Spoon, I’ve been introduced to the amazing work they’ve been doing to sustain food banks.”

Caroline Todd from Kings Church Foodbank, Durham, said: “We are finding that the cost-of-living crisis is having a detrimental impact on families who were already vulnerable and disadvantaged. We are extremely grateful

10 woodenspoon.org.uk pass the plate
Hertfordshire Foodbank Chelmsford Foodbank Southampton Foodbank Turning Heads Kings Foodbank
“Food poverty is such an important issue in the UK and something I’m very passionate about. Through working with Wooden Spoon, I’ve been introduced to the amazing work they’ve been doing to sustain food banks.”
Shaunagh Brown


To date Wooden Spoon has donated over £50,000 to food banks:

Action Pantry Twerton

Blackpool Foodbank

Bridgenorth Foodbank

Burntwood Foodbank

Cadoxton Primary School

Chelmsford Foodbank

Community Grocery Telford

Coney Hill Community Primary School

Faithworks Wessex (SMILE and Poole Foodbank)

Family Action Food Club

Foodbank PLUS Barnabas

Community Projects


Guernsey Welfare Service

Home-Start in Suffolk

Isle of Man Foodbank

Kings Church Foodbank

Kirkby Lonsdale Community Cupboard

Knowsley Foodbank

Lewisham Foodbank

to Wooden Spoon for supporting the Foodbank. We have seen an increase of 108% on last year and could not deliver this vital service without support.”

The team at Seashells Children & Families Centre, Kent told us: “This donation will enable us to deliver over 235 food boxes, providing over 6,700 meals, to local families. We have seen a substantial increase in demand for our food bank service, many families are reaching breaking point.

“Having this support from Wooden Spoon will be life saving, and we are very thankful, so we can continue to help those in need.”

There is still much work to be done to combat hunger across the UK and Ireland. For more information about how you can donate to Pass the Plate, or if you are an organisation in need of funding, please visit: woodenspoon.org.uk/ pass-the-plate

New Life Church

Newcastle West End Foodbank

Norwich FoodHub

Nuneaton Foodbank

Rowbarton Food Pantry

Rugeley Foodbank

Seashells Children & Families Centre

Stevenage Vineyard Church

Telford Crisis Support

The Gap Warwick

The Quest Academy

The Well Kibworth

Turning Heads

Worcester Foodbank

Ysgol Hen Felin

Shaunagh Brown at Lewisham Foodbank for Pass the Plate

power of senses

Children of all ages can discover the power of their senses at the newly refurbished Renfrew YMCA building, where they can explore tastes, smells, images, and sounds.

Wooden Spoon Glasgow provided £30,000 to fund a sensory building at the Renfrew YMCA, as part of the wider refurbishment.

Youth development worker, Amanda, said: “The funding from Wooden Spoon has been incredibly important to us. It has given us the opportunity to create a multi-sensory space for young people with additional support needs and mental health issues.”

Food is provided at each session, which helps families facing food poverty. There is also space for children to focus on imaginative play, arts and crafts, or baking.

Paige, 13, said: “I love attending the YMCA as it is a safe place to hang out with my friends, I have a lot of fun meeting new young people and learning about their different stories of life.

“I love attending the YMCA as it is a safe place to hang out with my friends, I have a lot of fun meeting new young people.”

Local mum, Anna, said: “I have three children who attend the YMCA, ten-monthold Freddie, Adam, nine, and Ava, ten. We go every week, and we love it. There is so much for the children to do – and while having fun, they are also learning.”

12 woodenspoon.org.uk pROJECTS: Glasgow
Adam, Freddie, Ava and Paige all make use of the Renfrew YMCA The new sensory room

Climbing high

Pupils at Mill Water School in East Budleigh are reaping the benefits of new colourful and dynamic play areas, specially designed to meet their needs.

Mill Water educates children and young people, aged 3 to 19, with severe and complex learning difficulties. Despite the excellent classroom provision, its outdoor play spaces lacked the stimulation the school’s 120 pupils needed.

Wooden Spoon Devon donated £11,000 towards a new wooden tower and play zone within the Early Years playground.

Wooden Spoon’s Roger Haywood said: “We are delighted to support such a worthy school. Seeing the children enjoying the new play area is wonderful.”

Headteacher, Sarah Pickering, said: “The children absolutely love the new facilities. The difference has been incredible. Our pupils have a very broad spectrum of abilities and needs. This major project has ensured that we cater for everyone.

“It has also greatly enhanced the provision of the clubs that we run during the school holidays. We are extremely grateful for the phenomenal support the school has received.”

“We are delighted to support such a worthy school. Seeing the children enjoying the new play area is wonderful.”
Roger Haywood, Wooden Spoon

Beaming with smiles

Wooden Spoon Kent donated £25,000 towards a new sensory playground at We Are Beams, in Hextable, which provides comprehensive services for the whole family to support children and young people with disabilities and special needs.

Ciaran, 13, has multiple conditions, including Down’s Syndrome, diabetes, coeliac disease and ASD and ADHD, and Beams has been part of his life since he was five. Beams offers Ciaran overnight respite, school holiday camp, days out and a support worker.

Ciaran’s mum, Terri, explains how Beams has helped them: “As Ciaran’s needs are complex, this makes his behaviour challenging, there are very few opportunities for him to access

fun things in a way that he can cope. This is where Beams has had such a huge impact on our family life. For him, he has fun away from us, he gets to be himself and he learns some independence.”

For Terri, the support allows her to recharge and spend precious family time with Ciaran’s younger sister Rebecca.

“The garden is amazing, he loves it. The slide is his favourite. He has the space he needs, he can play at his own pace. He’s safe to be himself.”
Terri, Ciaran’s mum

After two years of fundraising, the once run down garden has been transformed to an inviting, inclusive environment. The area will make a huge difference to so many children that are sadly unable to enjoy public parks due to their disability or special needs.

Terri said: “The garden is amazing, he loves it. The slide is his favourite. He has the space he needs; he can play at his own pace.

“He’s safe to be himself. Knowing it is there, he can explore and play in different parts of the garden all day if he wants to. He doesn’t get overwhelmed or have to leave before he’s explored everything he wants to.”

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Projects: kent
The bright colours make the new inclusive playground very inviting Ciaran enjoying the Growing Area at the new sensory playground

garden sanctuary

A new sensory, edible garden and outdoor classroom space for the pupils at Sutton Tuition and Reintegration Service (STARS), has been made possible by a £15,000 grant from Wooden Spoon Surrey. Food grown will be eaten by the children and used to promote school-wide healthy eating. Children at STARS have a range of complex

medical needs including eating disorders, autism, emotional disorders, and mental health difficulties.

STARS teacher, Andrew, tells us how the garden has helped Aaron: “By chance, I invited Aaron to help out in the garden one day, and he absolutely loved it.”

Aaron, 12, has ASD and has missed a lot of school due to anxiety. Mum, Nicola, said: “We knew that Aaron has something like ASD, but because he is very bright, his previous school didn’t see it as Aaron can mask. He was also bullied.”

With an EHCP in place, Aaron started at STARS. Nicola continues: “One day he was struggling, and I couldn’t get him ready for school. As soon

“One day he was struggling, and I couldn’t get him ready for school.

As soon as Andrew said, ‘do you want to come up and do some gardening?’

I’ve never seen him get ready so fast.”

Nicola, Aaron’s mum

as Andrew said, ‘do you want to come up and do some gardening?’ I’ve never seen him get ready so fast.

“Even when it’s raining Aaron would be out there. The other day he picked radishes. It’s an escape, there are other children, but sometimes it’s just Andrew and Aaron, they’ve definitely bonded.”

15 PROJECTS: surrey
Aaron loves the new edible garden and outdoor classroom

learning the ropes

Thanks to a generous donation, children with sight loss can experience the joy and excitement of sailing the waters of Windermere.

Wooden Spoon Lancashire provided a £10,500 grant for a second-hand sailing boat for The Outlook Trust. The boat will give young people with visual impairments the freedom of sailing on Lake Windermere.

Fiona tells us about her daughter, Ellen, 17, who has been coming to The Outlook Trust for six years: “Ellen really looks forward to these weekends. She’s made friends and grown in confidence. She can relax here, and I know she’s safe.”

Ellen lost her central vision suddenly when she was nine, Fiona explains: “She has peripheral vision, so she can

move around without a cane – but it’s a hidden disability, she doesn’t look blind.

“The volunteers and trustees are truly wonderful to give up their time and provide such interesting activities for youngsters with visual impairments.”

Ellen is the only child at her school who is visually impaired. She said: “Just being around other visually impaired children is great, and I’ve met my best friend here. We understand each other, and we can share experiences. It makes you feel like you’re not alone –because it is quite isolating when you lose your sight.

“One of the volunteers is also visually impaired, so it shows us just what we can do, and what we can accomplish. Getting out

“Getting out on the lake is always really nice. It’s relaxing to hear the movement of the water while we are on the boat.” Ellen

on the lake is always really nice. It’s relaxing to hear the movement of the water while we are on the boat.

“I’ve never thought about going sailing before, and with this, I’ve picked up new skills. I have struggled with being social, so it’s helped with my confidence, speaking to the other young people, and speaking to the adults too.”

When Ellen turns 18, she is looking forward to being a volunteer helper for The Outlook Trust and share her knowledge and experience with the younger children.

woodenspoon.org.uk PROJECTS: lancashire
Ellen, who lost her sight aged nine, sailing with The Outlook Trust

time to rest & recover

The Harry Johnson Trust offers support to children and teenagers with cancer.

The trust raised £70,000 last year to fund Harry’s House, based at Gwernydd Hall Holiday Park in Welshpool, as a holiday home for families facing treatment. Wooden Spoon Shropshire provided a £1,600 grant for garden furniture to complete the holiday experience.

The trust was founded in 2014 by Sally and Stephen Johnson following the death of their seven-year-old son, Harry, who had double-hit non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Paediatric Haematology Nurse Specialist, Janice Llewellyn, explains why

Harry’s House is so important: “It offers families the chance to get away on a holiday within travelling distance to the hospital. If they did need to attend hospital during their stay, families would not have to meet a new team and explain their condition and treatment.

“The break can be for just a couple of nights, or for up to a week, so can be arranged

to fit in with the competing demands these families have. “It’s a change of scenery for them, with lots of activities on offer for all ages.

“The support The Harry Johnson Trust gives families is absolutely first class and a one off. This makes such a difference in such traumatic times. It also gives them an opportunity to be a family and have some quality time together.”

“It offers families the chance to get away on a holiday within travelling distance to the hospital... It’s a change of scenery for them with lots of activities on offer for all ages.”

17 PROJECTS: shropshire
Sally Johnson cuts the ribbon, with Chris Bristow, Wooden Spoon Shropshire, and Steve Lewis, park manager

breath of sea air

Young Ruddi had extensive treatment for cancer, and his mum, Ali, wanted something positive to come from their ordeal. She started Ruddi’s Retreat to offer families much-needed respite by the seaside. To help support the families suffering from illness or bereavement, Wooden Spoon Yorkshire gave a £25,000 grant to the charity towards a caravan on the Fylde Coast, near Blackpool.

Primary carer, Sarah, took her grandson for a holiday at Ruddi’s Retreat. She explains: “Logan is 12 now. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was eight. It’s been a really horrible time for all of us. Ruddi’s has been absolutely fantastic.

“One of the staff at Ruddi’s said, ‘here’s a booking form, do you want to apply for a holiday?’ So, we went to a caravan in Primrose Valley.

“Until we got there, I didn’t realise how much we needed it. Logan was diagnosed in the February and spent

weeks in hospital. It was May when we went to the caravan, and I’d literally been on autopilot the entire time – deal with it now, think later. I dropped everything I could, so I could focus on making sure he was OK.”

Sarah noticed a change in Logan after treatment: “He wasn’t the happy-go-lucky person he used to be – it’s caused so much stress, he was scared of everything.

“When we got to the caravan, it was amazing to play, relax, do what we wanted… and the sea air as well! We’d have a laugh together and not think about hospital.”

Sarah continues: “We tried everything; the beach, club activities, swimming, bowling, pedalos, and the little bikes you can ride around the campsite. We even had days out at Scarborough and Whitby.

“The holiday allowed me to unwind quite a bit. Seeing him laughing and playing helped me too.”

“When we got to the caravan, it was amazing to play, relax, do what we wanted… and the sea air as well! We’d have a laugh together and not think about hospital.”
18 woodenspoon.org.uk PROJECTS: yorkshire
Sarah, Logan’s grandmother

building the future

Colleagues at Securitas Technology rolled up their sleeves for a community build day at The Walnuts School in Milton Keynes.

The Building The Future project, funded by Securitas Technology, saw an enthusiastic team of 25 work together to build a new sensory playground for pupils with additional needs.

Headteacher, Jonathan Budd, explained what the new space will mean to his pupils: “It’s an area of the school that we’ve simply not been able to invest in for many years. This is going to transform the opportunities our young people have, show them how important they are, and what they deserve.”

Fusion Community Initiatives empower volunteers to create spaces for the local community. Could your company benefit from a team building day, making a lasting impact on your local community? Contact: charity@woodenspoon.org.uk

the road to success

Last year’s epic The Road to Twickenham bike ride, organised by our corporate partner Gallagher, has funded a community build project at Old Hall Special School in Walsall. Among the team of volunteers building the playground

equipment were Paralympic champion Louis Rolfe and former Scottish international Nathan Hines. Both sportsmen took part in The Road to Twickenham and were instrumental in raising the funds to make this project possible.


in jamie we trust

As The Lions Trust teams up with Wooden Spoon once again to support children and young people facing disadvantage, Welsh and Lions legend Jamie Roberts tells us what becoming a trustee means to him.

With 94 caps for Wales, two grand slams and three Six Nations titles, Jamie Roberts is a hero among rugby fans. Add to that, nine appearances for The British & Irish Lions, including three Test caps, he will be a hard act to follow.

Jamie reflects on his many career highlights: “That try in the third Test in Sydney in 2013 was pretty special. It’s hard to look past that, yet

there’s also something very special about your first cap for your country. Playing for Wales was what I aspired to, and I’m very grateful I got that opportunity.

“My Lions experiences have been bittersweet! My first Tour in 2009 was pretty memorable; I was a young man thrust into a Test side that lost the Series in the 80th minute in that second Test at Loftus.

“That disappointment was somewhat eased by winning the ‘Player of the Series’ award, yet four years

20 woodenspoon.org.uk
interview: jamie roberts
“I’m delighted to have come onboard as a trustee of The Lions Trust... the Trust harnesses the spirit and values of the Lions throughout rugby clubs and communities, across the UK and Ireland.”

later, a handful of us got to experience the elation of the third Test in Sydney. That changing room post-match was certainly one of my favourite rugby memories.”

Life has been busy for Jamie, since retiring from the game professionally. Jamie said: “I’m delighted to have come onboard as a trustee of The Lions Trust.

“The Trust’s ambition is to support all Lions players in times of need. Not only does it support players, but the Trust harnesses the spirit and values of the Lions throughout rugby clubs and communities, across the UK and Ireland.

“This partnership allows Wooden Spoon to both broaden its reach and leverage through its association with a worldrenowned iconic rugby brand.

“We hope this translates to more fundraising for Wooden Spoon’s projects but, most importantly, the relationship facilitates the alignment of rugby’s core values to grow awareness of both the Lions and the charity.”

In 2019, Wooden Spoon funded play and sensory rooms at Noah’s Ark children’s hospital in Cardiff, where Jamie is an ambassador. He saw first-hand the difference it has made: “It’s huge. We cannot underestimate the value of such projects to the community. The project gave patients, and their families, areas to enjoy away from the stress and

demands of the wards. This is one of many projects Wooden Spoon has funded; its work has transformed many communities, and it’s wonderful that the Lions can support the charity to continue doing so.”

Jamie’s energy remains in full flow, even away from the pitch. In addition to planning his wedding later this year, raising two young children and working with the media for the Six Nations tournament, he has more fundraising planned: “I’m also doing the JR12 Testimonial Year raising money for The Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity so that’s been keeping me busy too!”

Jamie Roberts holds aloft the Tom Richards Cup after the Lions Series victory in 2013



Proudly celebrating a huge milestone, our charity marked its 40th birthday at The Ruby Rugby Ball Ball held in London’s prestigious Landmark Hotel. Over £31 million has been distributed to more than 1,465 projects, supporting 1.5 million children and young people across the UK and Ireland during the four decades. And yet, there is more to be done.

A staggering four million children in the UK currently live in poverty, while 9% have a disability and one in six live with mental health challenges.*

With over 350 guests, and rugby legends from the past and present, the evening raised an astonishing £70,000 for our lifechanging projects so all children and young people have access to the best life opportunities.

woodenspoon.org.uk Ruby rugby ball
David Flatman, Gill Burns MBE, Sarah Bern, Alex Goode and Chris Ashton The Ruby Rugby Ball
* The Health Foundation

Far left, top to bottom: Sarah Bern and Sarah Webb; Alex Goode and Chris Ashton; Gill Burns MBE

Right, top to bottom: David Flatman; Maddie from the Boathouse Youth, whose speech received a standing ovation; Kylie Grimes MBE

Hosted by ex-England international David Flatman, and joined by Chris Ashton, the all-time leading try scorer in Premiership Rugby, England internationals Alex Goode and Sarah Bern, as well as former Red Rose, Gill Burns MBE. The panel discussed their professional careers and their love of the game and its positive influence on society.

Former England legend Dewi Morris, Paralympic wheelchair champions Stuart Robinson MBE and Kylie Grimes MBE, and English Premiership star, Luke Northmore, also mingled with guests at the gala fundraiser. Wooden Spoon would like to thank everyone for their continuing support and for making The Ruby Rugby Ball an event to be remembered.

Ruby rugby ball

Front row ambassador

Six Nations winner and Wooden Spoon ambassador Sarah Bern talks to us about how the women’s game is growing and her personal connection with our charity.

For Red Rose prop Sarah Bern, playing for England is always a thrill: “I got my first cap in 2016. Every time I step out in an England shirt is very special. Even to this day, after seven years and 52 caps, you never know when the next one is going to come.”

Sarah recalls a special moment in New Zealand: “There was steam everywhere, the stadium was full of Lions fans. Everything clicked, we beat New Zealand for the first time in 18 years, and that was a very proud moment. It was a magical setting and experience.”

We spoke to Sarah ahead of her Grand Slam Six Nations win: “Feeling excited, good to be back with the girls, and it’s nice to have some new faces, bringing some different energy.”

Sarah first became interested in rugby around the age of 11. She tagged along to her cousin’s match, and literally knocked them off their feet.

Sarah laughs: “This coach, an older fella, he had a tackle pad, he said ‘right, just run at the pad as hard as you can and try and hit it’. I ran as hard as I could, and knocked the guy over. He did a backwards roll, and said, ‘err… yep, that’ll do’.”

Sarah was hooked: “I just really enjoyed it. It had a bit of everything, you had to be strong, fast, use your brain –kick, run. Growing up I played a lot of different positions. It

“So, I thought, how can I help my sister? There must be so many children around the world that love sport but can’t access it because they are neurodivergent.”
24 woodenspoon.org.uk
sarah bern

definitely helped my ability to scan and see those spaces and lines of running.”

Later, Sarah was picked by Matt Ferguson for the England squad, although initially she was reluctant to play front row: “He said, ‘you have the opportunity to come to a World Cup right now, but you’ve got to do it as a prop. I want you to take the challenge of learning how to scrummage’.

“And, in my head, because it was more of a challenge, I was, ‘Oh, OK then, yeah’. ‘But you’ve got to help me be the best prop in the world!’.”

Sarah continues: “I would love to win the World Cup,

we have been so close in 2017 and 2022 – it is a dream to lift that trophy.”

Since England women players became professional, other teams have followed suit. Sarah comments: “We are at the forefront, and we’ve influenced investment in the teams. It’s great there is the opportunity to be a professional athlete.”

“It’s been really fun to watch the number of young girls coming to the game and saying, ‘I want to play for the Red Roses’.”

Away from the pitch, Sarah is a Wooden Spoon ambassador: “My nephew has autism, and he is the most amazing little boy. He loves to watch me play, and he always wants to play rugby with me. My sister used to come to the games, but because of the sensory

overload my nephew can’t always be in those situations. It became quite challenging.

“So, I thought, how can I help my sister? There must be so many children around the world that love sport but can’t access it because they are neurodivergent. Can I push for sensory rooms to be put in rugby stadiums and offer children with disabilities, or facing disadvantage, the same fun experience of watching sport, but in an environment that suits them better?

“I’m getting involved with fundraising for a sensory room at Ashton Gate – and trying to find a way to get that into Twickenham.”

Wooden Spoon is working with Twickenham Stadium to look at funding a sensory room, enabling neurodiverse people to enjoy live rugby.

Images: RFU Collection via Getty Images

40KM virtual challenge

As part of our 40th Birthday celebrations in January, we launched a virtual challenge to bring people across the UK together to raise money for Wooden Spoon. We had 39 fundraisers brave the cold and rain to walk, cycle, run or however they wanted to cover the 40km in a week.

A massive thank you to everyone who took part raising £3,200.

Fundraiser Nina said: “The January 40km challenge was a great way to kick start the year. I made up the kilometres in running and cycling with friends, and plenty of coffee shop stops on the rides, which made it all the more enjoyable!

I’ve played 7s for the Marauders for a couple of seasons now but an injury will prevent me from competing this year, so it’s great to support Wooden Spoon in a different way.”

marathon effort

Congratulations to our 15 amazing Wooden Spoon runners who took part in the TCS London Marathon 2023. Despite the rain, spirits were high as they joined more than 40,000 people to run through the streets of the capital on their 26.2-mile journey to the finish line. We can’t thank them enough, along with every single person who donated and supported them. A few of our runners have shared their photos below.

Runner Jo Bolton said: “I wanted to run for Wooden Spoon as my son Thomas played rugby for Billericay Bees RFC. He was there

for ten years and I am very much part of the rugby family, and still very involved with the club.

“It means so much to be able to help those that are facing disadvantage, illness or disability. If I can help make even one child’s life better, then that’s amazing and worth all of the effort.”

We have spaces in the 2024 marathon. We would love you to run on behalf of Wooden Spoon. Apply for your place here:

26 woodenspoon.org.uk fundraisers
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Our regions have been busy holding amazing events and raising funds to support local projects in their regions. Here are some highlights from the events across the UK and Ireland.

28 woodenspoon.org.uk
1 Nottingham Burns Night Dinner 2 & 3 Lancashire luncheon with Sir Bill Beaumont and John Inverdale 4 Bedfordshire Lunch 5 Devon Christmas Lunch 6 Scotland Pre International Lunches
1 5 7 10 2 3 6 8 9 11 4
7 & 8 Gloucestershire Rugby Quiz & Race Day
12 15 18 21 13 17 16 19 20 22 14
THE REGIONS 9 Surrey Sportsman Dinner with Shane Williams
& 11 Lancashire Multi Sports Camp
Worcester Christmas Curry Lunch
Bristol Bath and Somerset Go Karting Event
Merseyside Sporting Lunch
Chilterns Team Go Kart Race
Chilterns Lunch with Dean Richards
Northumberland Curry Night
Devon Sports Quiz
Wales Concrete Society Lunch
Wales Golf Day
Cumbria Dinner with David Campese
Guernsey Six Nations Dinner

fond farewell to JOhn

As John Sumnall steps down from our Cornwall committee, we reflect on his memorable moments of the last 24 years.

In 1999, John Sumnall and Ron Spencer formed a committee with WH (Bill) Bishop as President – Bill was RFU President from 1995-96. John took the role of Chair.

John describes Cornwall’s first big fundraiser: “Willie John McBride spoke at our first dinner in 2000. As I introduced Willie John, I could not finish – the 150 guests rose as one and gave him a magnificent welcome. I have never experienced such respect given to one person.

The fundraising started with a flourish; John tells us: “Our first project was with the

Bishop’s Forum to refurbish a Cornish fishing boat for wheelchair users to sail. A bottle was cracked, and the boat was presented by Bill Bishop to ‘Bishop Bill’ –the media had a field day!”

John retired in 2010 and moved to France, handing over the Chair. Family matters saw him return to Cornwall in 2015 and then to Wooden Spoon.

“I had had just enough wine at a Cornish Pirates match to finally give in to pleas to reform the branch, as it had disbanded in 2013,” he said.

For John, the reward has always been meeting the beneficiaries: “It has given me much joy and was often very moving. I remember working with a school for

children with profound physical and medical disabilities to refurbish their play area and garden.

“They gave me presentations of how they would like it to be, and I fought back the tears. At the opening the children presented their drawings as a remembrance. There was no holding the tears this time and I struggled to say thank you.”

From all the Wooden Spoon family, we wish John a long and happy retirement and thank you for all the hard work during those 24 years.

30 woodenspoon.org.uk ACROSS THE REGIONS
John Sumnall at the opening of Little ARBour Garden at Budehaven Community School in October 2021 John steps down from the Cornwall committee


Young's are holding a series of events in aid of Wooden Spoon to support the following initiatives

that dogs can make to our lives. But for the people they support, our dogs can actually make life possible.

The partnership will help to support children and young people with a range of disabilities and social needs through the help of specially trained dogs.

Wheelchair rugby is a team sport for athletes with a disability.

The partnership will supply more rugby wheelchairs which means more children and young people can get involved in this amazing sport and together we can help support tomorrow's superstars.


SOHK work with school children at risk of exclusion to help them re-engage with education using rugby and a curriculum of powerful life lessons.

The partnership will help fund more children's places on the programmes in schools across the South East and London.

Wooden Spoon's 'Pass the Plate' campaign provides support for food banks and community schemes up and down the country. The partnership will help people struggling to feed their families in these challenging economic times and will contribute to putting • food on the plates of many.

Maddy's Mark was established to remember Maddy Lawrence who sadly died following a rugby injury in 2022. The charity exists to raise funds in her name to help promote positive mental health and wellbeing in young women, through rugby.

Brave Mind are about getting into action and putting mental health at the heart of their community. They provide a national platform to help rugby clubs, schools and universities to improve their approach to supporting mental health.

The partnership will help support more young people.

The children's charity of rugby

events & contacts

ABERDEEN: Norman Fiddes aberdeen@woodenspoon.org.uk

BEDFORDSHIRE: Oliver Richbell bedfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

BRISTOL, BATH & SOMERSET: Jeff Durant bbs@woodenspoon.org.uk

CHILTERNS: Chris Henkey chilterns@woodenspoon.org.uk

CORNWALL: Alan Milliner cornwall@woodenspoon.org.uk

CUMBRIA: John Cunningham cumbria@woodenspoon.org.uk

DEVON: Roger Haywood devon@woodenspoon.org.uk

DORSET, WILTSHIRE & HAMPSHIRE: Brett Bader dwh@woodenspoon.org.uk

DURHAM: Paul Tully durham@woodenspoon.org.uk

EASTERN COUNTIES: eastern@woodenspoon.org.uk

EDINBURGH: John Godfrey edinburgh@woodenspoon.org.uk

ESSEX: Richard Austin/James Crouch essex@woodenspoon.org.uk

GLASGOW: Al Kellock glasgow@woodenspoon.org.uk

GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Rob York gloucester@woodenspoon.org.uk

GUERNSEY: Karen Solway guernsey@woodenspoon.org.uk

HERTFORDSHIRE: John Batters hertfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

ISLE OF MAN: Allan Thompson/Peter Jenkins isleofman@woodenspoon.org.uk

JERSEY: David Wilton jersey@woodenspoon.org.uk

KENT: Richard Russ kent@woodenspoon.org.uk

LANCASHIRE: Martin Long lancashire@woodenspoon.org.uk

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

LEINSTER: Niall Browne leinster@woodenspoon.org.uk

MANCHESTER & CHESHIRE: Roger Smith manchester@woodenspoon.org.uk

MERSEYSIDE: Mark Flett merseyside@woodenspoon.org.uk

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE: northampton@woodenspoon.org.uk

NORTHUMBERLAND: Iain Stewart northumberland@woodenspoon.org.uk

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE: Diane Orson nottingham@woodenspoon.org.uk

OXFORDSHIRE: Will Deeley oxfordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

SHROPSHIRE: Chris Bristow shropshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

STAFFORDSHIRE: Trevor Jenkins staffordshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

SURREY: Brian Hodges surrey@woodenspoon.org.uk

SUSSEX: Sandy Fleming sussex@woodenspoon.org.uk

ULSTER: Peter Wood ulster@woodenspoon.org.uk

WALES: Huw Thomas wales@woodenspoon.org.uk

WARWICKSHIRE: Ian Holroyd warwickshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

WEST MIDLANDS: Martin Owen westmidlands@woodenspoon.org.uk

WORCESTERSHIRE: John Gibson worcester@woodenspoon.org.uk

YORKSHIRE: Stuart Watson yorkshire@woodenspoon.org.uk

wooden spoon Regional events

17 MAY 2023 Oxfordshire

Faulty Towers dining Experience

18 MAY 2023 Aberdeen

Aberdeen Dinner

18 MAY 2023 Ulster

Golf Day: The Willie John McBride Classic

21 MAY 2023 Yorkshire Ripon Race Day

26 MAY 2023 Devon Golf Day

1 JUNE 2023 Edinburgh

Edinburgh Golf Day

3 JUNE 2023


Open Air Queen Tribute Band

9 JUNE 2023 Kent West Kent Golf Day

14 JUNE 2023


7 JULY 2023 Cornwall

Golf Day

7 JULY 2023 Kent

Mid Kent Golf Day

20 JULY 2023 Wales

Golf Day

21 JULY 2023 Sussex

Golf Day

18 AUG 2023 Kent

Rugby Club Golf Challenge

21 AUG 2023 Warwickshire

Golf Day

1 SEPT 2023 Durham

Golf Day

8 SEPT 2023 Shropshire

Golf Day

6 OCT 2023 Hertfordshire

Golf Day

2 NOV 2023 Edinburgh

Edinburgh Dinner

10 NOV 2023 Essex

B&I National Spoon Vets

Remembrance Luncheon

24 NOV 2023 Surrey

Rugby Clubs’ Curry Lunch

10 DEC 2023 Chilterns

Carol Cruise

Chilterns Golf Day
Bamburgh Castle Cricket Day 18
2023 Yorkshire Black Sheep Big Spoon Bike Ride 29

Doddie Weir OBE, former Scotland rugby player

Scottish legend, Doddie Weir, who won 61 caps for Scotland, was a huge supporter of Wooden Spoon, and has made a significant difference to the lives of children living with disadvantage or disability in Scotland. As a regular speaker at events, Doddie used his platform as one of Scottish Rugby’s most recognised players to raise awareness about the importance of rugby in improving the lives of disadvantaged children, and motivating others to make a difference. He was a natural, he is much missed, and his legacy will continue to inspire others to give back to their communities.

John Grundy, first Chairman of Wooden Spoon Kent

John was involved with Wooden Spoon for decades and his enormous contribution will have helped so many children and their families in Kent. He was a lifelong rugby man, who will be missed at his beloved Old Dunstonians RFC, but also by many of the other great Kentish rugby clubs. He will also be greatly missed by his daughters, their families, and his many friends.

David Duckham MBE

As well as being a fantastic rugby player, David was one of our ambassadors and Honorary President of Wooden Spoon West Midlands. He spent a lot of time aiding the charity to raise its profile. He hosted and spoke at various charity events and helped raise funds for projects supporting vulnerable children. He never said no. David was a genuine, likeable, kind man with a fantastic sense of humour. He will be greatly missed.

Eddie Butler, broadcaster and former British & Irish Lion

Former Wales captain Eddie passed away suddenly, aged just 65, prompting a flurry of tributes for the legendary sports commentator. Eddie was proud to be a big supporter of Wooden Spoon, and over the years many of our members have been delighted by his entertaining after-dinner speaking. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to his family at this sad time.

Julie Roberts, Wooden Spoon supporter

Julie was a keen supporter of Wooden Spoon and a dedicated wife to Alan Roberts, a long-term Wooden Spoon supporter. Julie knitted herself a Wooden Spoon scarf, it proved so popular that we decided to launch our own official Spoon scarf which used to be a popular item of our charity’s regalia. Our sincere thoughts are with her husband, Alan, and his famiy.

33 tributes

Get ready to bond with your colleagues on 14th July 2023 and unleash your competitive spirit at the Corporate challenge in Bristol while raising funds for Wooden Spoon. For more info and to sign up visit www.7bamboosrugby.com

34 woodenspoon.org.uk rugby
Unite, Compete, and Give Back: Join the Corporate Challenge Cup AT NORTH Bristol RUGBY CLUB
September 2023 Moseley Rugby club, Birmingham Men and Women’s teams Register your interest here

Events & Fixtures


Bicentenary of Rugby Celebration: Dinner & Matches at Rugby School (men & women)


The Bamboo Corporate Touch Tournament (mixed)


End of Season Vets

Matches (men & women) and ‘Awards’ evening at Bristol RFC.

JULY 28-29

Derby 10s (men)

Friday: Golf Day; Saturday: Defending the Spoon Title at the Derby 10s

SEPT 7-10



Tour Compeigne, France (men & women)


VetsFest23 at Moseley RFC (men & women)

NOV 10

Wooden Spoon


Lunch, London (mixed). Paying our respects to the fallen at The Cenotaph before dining on board HMS Belfast.

calling our women rugby players

Due to the success of the Spoon men’s vets team, we have started a British & Irish national Spoon women’s team and are looking for

players to join the squad. Below, Caroline Watkins and Kath Vass tell us about playing rugby with Wooden Spoon and fundraising.

Sussex Spoon Vets women’s captain, Caroline Watkins

“The Wooden Spoon National Women’s Vets Team is a privilege to play for, with the common goal of raising money for Wooden Spoon, having fun, and furthering the growth of the game. Its inclusive ethos means that everyone who wants to contribute, can – whether you’re playing, fundraising, or just supporting your partner or your mates. It’s a fantastic thing to be a part of and I am very proud to be a member.”

Former Scotland International, Kath Vass

“I thought I was done with rugby. Over 50 and illness had me thinking I was done with the sport that had sustained me for 30 years. And then, at a Wooden Spoon dinner, I learnt there was a rugby life available for the more mature player. With Wooden Spoon I have enticed old players back to the game. No worries if you can’t run like you used to, you can still pass that ball. Reclaim your rugby heart. I have.”

Please get in touch with Matt Mitchell to find out how you can join our team on: rugby@woodenspoon.org.uk

35 rugby
Image: Gary Bide

We are open for Grant Applications

Does your organisation make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable children and young people?

You could be eligible for a Wooden Spoon Grant

To find out how you can apply for a grant with Wooden Spoon and to see if your organisation is eligible, please scan the QR code

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