Gloucestershire rugby volunteers congratulated by HRH The Princess Royal

HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of Gloucestershire Rugby Football Union (GRFU), congratulated rugby winners at this year’s Awards in Adversity event, created to recognise those who have gone over and above to support their rugby and wider community during the pandemic.

Eleven volunteers from eight GRFU member clubs attended an intimate event at Lockleaze Sports Centre, home of Bristol & District Rugby Football Combination, complying to current covid restrictions, to celebrate their achievements and to receive their awards.

During these extraordinary times experienced over the past year, many volunteers have risen to numerous challenges and overcome adversity. GRFU was delighted to receive so many nominations and the Awards Panel had its work cut out to whittle down the final shortlist to those who gathered at the event.

Keith Gee, GRFU President said: “All the volunteers expressed complete amazement when they were told they had been selected as an award winner. Why? Simply because they just get on and do it, without expecting any praise or thanks. They have a passion for the game of rugby and are prepared to put themselves out for their club, school, or society if it helps their community”.

Among the award winners was Kevin Mulvaney from St Mary’s Old Boys RFC who was delighted to be part of such a memorable event, saying: “It was a fabulous day and meeting HRH The Princess Royal was an honour. The award reflects the team at St Mary’s”.

Luke Savory added “I am genuinely humbled, it hasn’t really sunk in. I didn’t do this for recognition; it was an activity to keep me from thinking about the fact that my Dad had died. This award is for every person at Chosen Hill FP RFC for holding me and my family up and for helping to raise thousands of pounds for such an amazing cause. There wouldn’t have been a #BicforBob without Bob, this award is for also my Dad”

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The full list of winners recognised on the night is:

  • Luke Savory & Josh Forrester Rodway – Chosen Hill Former Pupils RFC drove a fundraising initiative to raise over £16k for Cheltenham & Gloucester NHS charity, recognising the excellent care given to his Bob, taken into hospital early April last year and sadly losing his life to Covid-19
  • David Reeves – Cirencester RFC ensured the club remained in line with all the rules and regulations which constantly evolved, putting endless hours into the club as his work contract was terminated due to the pandemic
  • Danny Briggs [Fairford RFC] highlighted the importance of mental health and well-being inspiring club members to walk over 63,000km, raising monies for a former player’s memorial bench as well as mental health charities MIND and Shine Bright (Fairford)
  • Declan Dunphy – NBRFC as Safeguarding Lead, coordinated the planning and implementation of the various strategies to ensure that the Club was Covid Secure in addition to leading on the clubs commercial activities, ensuring the club remains financially secure
  • Jan Bowen, Nick & Lisa Merrick [Old Bristolians Sports Club] led an initiative with over 400 school meals prepared and cooked at the clubhouse and delivered across Bristol, North Somerset, and Somerset
  • Charlie Balfour [Old Elizabethans RFC] spent countless time creating creative ways to keep all players and non-players actively engaged with the club as well as linking in with local schools, their teachers, and pupils
  • Kevin Mulvaney – St Mary’s Old Boys RFC navigated the club through the covid crisis successfully to emerge stronger, more resilient, and sustainable than before with the means to bring in new members from the local deprived communities and expand the use of club facilities to other activities to engage more closely with other charities and organisations.
  • Tim Marshfield – Stroud Rugby based himself at the club whilst working from home, which proved invaluable in organising essential maintenance to the club. preparing for the return to rugby and ensuring a welcoming environment to all

The GRFU has a sound foundation on which to build, with over 70 clubs and 120 playing schools in membership. None of these would be in existence if it were not for the dedicated volunteers throughout all echelons of the game.

Everyone within the GRFU and its clubs are driven by a shared passion for the game. No one role is any more, or less, important than another. Whether it be marking out a pitch, refereeing a match, serving behind a bar, coaching a team, chairing a meeting, or fundraising there is always a way to get involved.

Former Red Roses star, Rugby World Cup winner Danielle Waterman spoke to England Rugby this month about how important volunteers are in grassroots rugby. You can watch what she has to say as she thanks volunteers for all they do to bring the sport to so many people.

If you are already a member or parent of a player, contact your Committee or Club Volunteer Coordinator. Alternatively, you could speak to the coach of your child’s age group to see how you could help out.

If you are new to rugby and are looking to get involved, you can find your local club and contact via the club finder or get in touch with GRFU County Administrator by emailing to discuss local opportunities as well as those within the Constituent Body.