TWRFC in the Community
TWRFC strive to be an integral part of our community. We work with local businesses, members engage with community organisations and charities to support from placing coaches in schools to help develop rugby, support local foodbank or raise funds for local charities. The club has raised over £9000 for various charities over the last 18 months.
Here are just a few examples of TWRFC at work in the community:
Schools Rugby Program
Tunbridge Wells RFC were promoting their Schools Rugby Program at a recent PE Teachers Conference. The program that supports schools primary and secondary schools with experienced, qualified coaches is already working with seven schools in the area and in discussions with three more.
“The club has a long history of supporting schools in the community but historically more on an ad-hoc basis. Recently we have seen a significant uptake in demand from school who want to develop rugby but do not always have qualified staff available” said Martin Croker TWRFC Schools Rugby Program Lead. “ With increased demand the club took the decision to put together a structured program to offer on-going coaching in schools allowing a greater number of children to experience Rugby”
“We already have a growing Youth section at the club with over 750 registered players” said Mike Rigby Club Chairman. “But we are keen that even more children get to try the game and the Schools Program supports that and represents a key part of the club being at the heart of our community” “The program is supporting by Kent Sport and Kent RFU, we also have very generous support from key sponsors” continued Martin. “We would really like to that The Right Tuition Company and 888 Taxis for their on-going support. If any schools or community youth organisations would like support with Rugby coaching please contact the club.”
Schools supported to date:
- St. Peters
- St Barnabas
- Tunbridge Wells Free School
- Skinners Kent Academy
- Bennett Memorial
- St. Gregories
Although rugby starts at Under 6 at the club we are working with Rugby Tots to get children engaged in the game before then. Rugby Tots run fun sessions to introduce children to the game – sessions are held at the club during Spring and Summer with the team being supported by some of our Women’s & Girls U18 players.
To support opportunities for people to stay fit the TWRFC is working with Be Military Fit to offer a range of fitness classes at the club. The classes are timed to allow parents and guardians the option to keep fit while their children play rugby.
TWRFC has a long history of working with local schools be it through its historic links with The Skinners School or supporting local a local primary school with additions class room space during lockdown or using St Marks for school cross country competitions
Schools Tag Festivals
The club supports two significant events in the school sporting calendar every year hosting the Primary and Secondary Tag Competitions.
The annual events see children from across the area compete for honours across two afternoons of fast moving Rugby.
SOS Kit Aid
SOS Kit Aid exists because sport changes lives. Its mission is to recycle sports kit for the benefit of young people in the UK and overseas so they are given a sporting chance. With the support of the world of rugby, kit has been donated by schools, clubs and kit manufacturers across the UK, with an estimated value of over £6 million delivered to date. Over 250,000 youngsters in 44 developing countries around the world have received quality used and new kit, and there are a further 20 countries on the waiting list.
Club Chairman Mike Rigby said: “We are delighted to help this charity as they strive to make a positive and tangible impact on children’s lives by giving them the chance to participate in sporting activities; promote social inclusion; and protect the environment by reducing the proportion of used kits in landfill sites.”
As the result of a collection day, the club were able to send the charity 315 youth playing shirts plus T-shirts, boots and even a set of old post protectors! This would not have been possible without the generosity of members and the club’s Youth Section sponsors Countryside, Greenstone Financial Planning, Nortrade, HR Revolution, Bethany School, Cripps Pemberton Greenish and The Mark Cross Inn.
Six Nations Challenge
During lockdown TWRFC wanted to something as a club to support a local charity Hospice in the Weald. Like many charities local and national the lockdown had meant that vital sources of funding had been stopped with shops closed and events cancelled.
Hospice in the Weald was further impacted by increased demand to support patients but also do so under strict Covid-19 controls requiring PPE. Like all Hospices the Hospice in the Weald is not part of the NHS, they do get a small amount of funding from the government but the vast majority of the running costs are funded from charitable donations.
With the impact of increased demand, increased costs and reduced donations the club wanted to help the Hospice in the Weald as they worked on the front line of the pandemic giving patients a dignified end of life and supporting their wider families.
The initial challenge was for members to walk, run or cycle the equivalent of driving from our home ground to all four home nation stadiums – some 877 miles with a target of raising £500. In the end the club smashed that target and the challenge was extended to the equivalent of driving to all Six Nations stadiums and back to St Marks a massive 7003 miles and over £3500 raised.
Hospice in the Weald Head of Communications Tor Edwards said “It was great to see so many faces taking on this challenge! A huge thank you to the Club and everyone involved in this amazing effort. We are always so grateful for all fundraising support, and to see the local community come together during these challenging times was inspirational.”
Nourish Community Foodbank
TWRFC has a long standing partnership with Nourish Community Foodbank but with the “Lockdown” hitting our community hard members stepped up to volunteer to support the team at Nourish.
“We were busy before the lockdowns supporting over 7,000 people in crisis per year across the borough of Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge” said Operations Manager Dawn Stanford. “Since the first lockdown we have seen over a 100% increase in referrals and were also asked to be part of TWBC’s Frontline response team to COVID-19. At the same time as demand increased, we have lost a lot of our usual food and monetary donation locations e.g. churches, schools and businesses plus we have had to work around many of our existing volunteers self-isolating.”
Families from TWRFC came forward to help weigh-in and sort donations, stack shelves, pack and deliver food parcels. Nourish were restricted to the number of volunteers that could be in the packing unit due to social distancing requirements. Volunteers worked in household groups so they weren’t limited by social distancing and Nourish supplied gloves, aprons and sanitiser on site. Deliveries were managed by knocking on clients doors without the need for contact.
Here are just a couple of examples of TWRFC families supporting Nourish. The Weaver family had been out delivering food parcels “I’ve always had massive respect for Nourish Community Foodbank and the support it gives our community so when Dawn asked the parents of the U12s for drivers to help with deliveries, I was really pleased to be able to help out a couple of times a week” said Tam Weaver. “It is fantastic that Nourish were able to turn to the club for help to continue with their essential work during lockdown”
The Dexter family were also out and about supporting deliveries Ele Dexter commented “We want to support our community in any way we can and volunteering for Nourish Community Foodbank seemed like a great way to do something good on a regular basis.”
The Raine family were supporting weighing-in, sorting stock and deliveries “I was amazed how busy the team are, it’s easy to forget that even in an affluent area people are struggling and need support from organisations like Nourish” said Drew Raine “With Covid presenting even more challenges we wanted to help as much as we could and it’s great to see the wider TWRFC family supporting a community in need.”
Rugby Community Comes Together to Support Brain Tumour Charity
TWRFC held a charity “Brave the Shave” event in aid of the Lewis Moody Foundation, a charity that supports people of all ages battling brain tumours. The event was organised after first team player, Chris Brown’ 19 month old son, William, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer in the form of a brain tumour.
“The Club wanted to come together to support Chris and his family” said Stuart Nicholls, a fellow first team player who helped organise the event. “Chris and his wife Faye asked for any funds raised to go to the Lewis Moody foundation, a charity run by the ex-England and Leicester Tiger player”
25 brave souls took on the challenge to have their heads shaved – the team from Gallery Hair & Beauty, in Southborough, manned the clippers. Once all the heads were shaved, the evening continued with a quiz, raffle and some excellent food supplied by The Raj Pavillion.
“It was a really great evening seeing the club come together” said Alex Nicholson, TWRFC Mini Chair. “We also had a boost from Tonbridge Juddians who had their own charity event earlier in the day. When they heard about what we were doing they had an extra collection and raised over £750 for us. It really was a perfect example of how rugby is a community sport.”
The event raised over £2500 for the Foundation, with a donation also made to the family to help with William’s on-going care.
Tunbridge Wells RFC Under 12s Head to Rome to Raise Funds for Nourish
At the end of April, Hamish Weaver from TWRFC Under 12s decided to run the equivalent of a marathon over a weekend to raise funds for Nourish Community Foodbank. Demonstrating true rugby spirit, Hamish’s team mates joined him and the fund raising effort developed into a virtual road trip to Brussels – where the squad had been due to go on tour before the lockdown intervened.
“Hamish really wanted to do something for Nourish who have seen up to a 200% increase in referrals since the lockdown” said Martin Croker, U12 Coach. “The rest of the team wanted to join in and make a positive out of the disappointment of not touring this season. The players also got their parents involved in clocking up the miles and there was a real competitive spirit between the parents and kids.”
The competitive spirit meant the target to get to Brussels was reached quickly so the team decided to head to Rome, following in the wake of the TWRFC Six Nations Challenge in May, ending at the Stadio Olimpico. Building up the miles walking, running and cycling the group hit their final destination
logging a massive 4,825km and raising an amazing £2,500 for Nourish.
Club members have run various marathons in support for charities but also to raise funds for the club as well. Recent intrepid members running 26.2 miles supported with donations and encouragement by other members include:
Kathy Kellam – Brighton Marathon in aid of Cop-A-Feel – a breast cancer charity
Tam Weaver – London Marathon in aid of Nourish Community Foodbank
Paul Enville (Club First Aider) – London Marathon to raise funds for Youth Section equipment
Given the open space a Rugby club provides and the proximity of St Marks to main routes in and out of Tunbridge Wells the Kent Air Ambulance Trust approached the club about being a designated landing site. The club immediately agreed and while everyone hopes the need for it will be limited its always there when needed.