A Wooden Spoon Day
24 March 2013
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On my travels visiting clubs I have on a few occasions bumped into Seamus Farrelly, President of the Wooden Spoon Society in the Eastern Counties. When he asked me if I would represent the RFU at a couple of project openings followed by a fundraising dinner I was delighted to say yes, particularly as they were all in Colchester.
I left work early and headed for Doucecroft School just to the west of the town. The school caters for about 80 pupils with Autism aged between 3 and 19 and the campus is really very impressive. The project we were there to open was an outdoor trampoline in the playground with the £17,000 cost cost funded in part by donations from Colchester Rugby Club. Clearly it was no ordinary trampoline, designed with the users in mind.
The opening ceremony was performed by England and British Lions prop Phil Vickery who was absolutely charming despite the bitter wind. He dutifully had a bounce with one of the pupils, posed for photographs and signed autographs until everyone was satisfied. There was a small reception indoors with a couple of speeches, then we made our way to our cars to the next venue. I walked with Phil as he was going to follow my car but as we passed a classroom a couple of teachers came out apologising that they and their two pupils had missed everything. We had plenty of time so we went inside and Phil chatted for fifteen minutes or so to the two teenage boys who were in their first week at the school.
The next opening was of a Sensory Room at Stepping Stones based in the Wilson Marriage Centre in Colchester. It is worth following the link to see what a great service Stepping Stones provides and when we arrived a group of pre-school children were singing nursery rhymes which Phil immediately joined in with. Once again he was brilliant with the children who were very comfortable with him.
The Sensory Room, paid for with donations from Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club Veterans includes a soft play area and various light machines that have a calming influence on the children, some of whom have some quite challenging needs. Phil spent time talking to children and staff and showed a side to him that many of us hadn’t realised he had – the image of a gruff West Country prop was not on show.
The daytime duties over there were a couple of hours before the dinner at Colchester Rugby Club. About 80 guests sat down to an excellent three course meal followed by an auction with 18 lots including two tickets to a post-match dinner at Twickenham with the players and a rugby ball signed by the England team. Altogether around £5000 was raised which was a good night’s work and it topped off what was for me an educative, enjoyable and at times emotional day.
There are many charities that ask us for our support, but if you are involved in Rugby then you should consider the Wooden Spoon Society.
Photographs of the day