I know you will all join me in thought and prayer for those who lost their lives, or were injured in the Manchester bombing. It was a truly evil act but I would rather focus on how the face of humanity shines through evil. I am thinking of the many small acts of kindness that we saw in the wake of the horror. The taxi drivers ferrying people home without charge, the people of the city who opened their doors to strangers and offered them a bed for the night, the homeless man who was sat outside the venue at the time of the explosion and who immediately rushed to help victims – the sort of man we all walk past in the street! The incredible work of the police, emergency and security services is also something we can feel proud and good about. This all gives me hope that goodness will ultimately always triumph and that most people are decent, have empathy with the struggles that others face and want to help. Manchester is a great sporting city and has a strong sense of community and of its identity, we can’t really do much to help but in spirit we are alongside all of those affected by this tragedy.
One of the magic things about our sport is that I am constantly witness to people’s kindness and generosity. This week I received a letter and cheque from Euro Towers, a UK manufacturer of aluminium access equipment based in Northampton. The 60 employees of the company raised the money for the GB squad at a breakfast and cake sale morning. I was also contacted by Paul Henriques-Tonge who is taking part in a charity clay pigeon shoot this weekend and a series of runs starting with the Shrewsbury half on 18 June all to raise money for us. A massive thank you to everyone out there who is trying to help. There does seem a complete disconnect between the ‘them and us’ UK Sport policy of rewarding those wealthy and privileged sports and a desire from the public for fairness and not to crush those who already face significant challenges in their daily lives. Meanwhile our efforts to fundraise continue and I am pleased to welcome Lucy Knight into our team. Some of you met Lucy at the Nationals. She has just been appointed as our first ever head of fundraising and comes with an impressive track record. She is currently the head of fundraising for Bath Rugby Club Foundation but has also held senior roles for the Marie Curie, Brain Tumour and CLIC Sargent charities so she is very experienced and very keen to get started. She formally joins on 12 June and I know she is keen to get out and meet people and gain an understanding of the sport as quickly as possible.
Finally, today we say good bye to our Membership Secretary, Daniel after almost 6 years in the job. He has been a fantastic servant to the sport, looked after us all and gone far beyond his job description to provide a very high level of service. He has embodied all of the values we as a sport have committed to and I have many reasons to be personally grateful to him. I know everyone will join me in thanking him and wishing him well. At the same time we look forward to welcoming Leigh Boswell who takes over the role and who also joins us on 12 June. Leigh is currently employed by the RFU and so has the advantage of knowing the Twickenham office and the staff well. She would admit to knowing very little about us or how we work so I know we will all be patient and support her as she finds her feet. I am delighted she has accepted the position and I know she will get a warm welcome from everyone. You will have realised that the office will be vacant for the next two weeks as there is a gap between Daniel leaving and Leigh joining. It will also take a week or so for Leigh to get up to speed so can I ask that you are patient and try not to make too many demands on the system for a couple of weeks. In the interim clubs and members should refer to their RDO if they have particular needs, or if absolutely necessary to Kirsty. The usual practice for safeguarding issues apply and if there are finance or media issues then please direct them to me.
Have a great bank holiday weekend. It’s going to be warm in Cornwall I understand but the water remains freezing so I am dreading my son’s surf boarding which I have to be in the water for and to add to my woes it’s school sports day this afternoon and there’s that father’s race ……!!!