Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Calling rugby fans! We need you to help kick meningitis into touch

Andy Hopkinson | 13th February 2020

We’re looking for lots of our wonderful supporters to help us turn one of the country’s major sporting venues orange for the afternoon next month

Volunteer bucket collection at Wasps rugby for Meningitis Now

Thanks to the generosity of Gallagher Premiership rugby team Wasps we’ve been invited to raise awareness and funds when they take on our local team and high-flying rivals Gloucester (fourth in the table at time of writing) at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Saturday 7 March.

As well as providing space for a display in the Fan Village prior to the game, which will be supported by some of their non-playing first team squad, they’re also allowing us to hand out our lifesaving signs and symptoms cards and hold a bucket collection on the concourse immediately outside the ground prior to the 2.30pm kick off.

And that’s where you come in. We want as many supporters with buckets as possible to make the most of this opportunity. Everyone joining in will also be given a free ticket to watch the game. Interested? Then please get in touch by emailing our Community Fundraising Manager Leah Wynn at leahw@meningitisnow.org.

Be a mascot

But Wasps’ hospitality doesn’t end there. The club is also offering some of our younger supporters – up to four – the chance to make special memories by being a mascot for the day and running onto the pitch alongside one of the Wasps stars at the start of the game. If you’d like to be considered for this please again email Leah.

And there’ll be a page in the programme about us and our work, as well as an interview with our Trustee Rod Adlington on the pitch at half time, broadcast on the big screen at the stadium.

It’s thanks to Rod that this has all come about. He has connections with Warwickshire rugby club side Claverdon, an affiliate club of Wasps, and he’s been supporting his friend and former teammate, Duncan Nealon, as he tries to set a new world record in this year’s London Marathon for the fastest marathon in full rugby kit. He told Wasps contacts about this and, in the big-hearted way of rugby clubs the length and breadth of the land, they invited us to join them.

Celebrate Barney’s life

Duncan’s doing the marathon to raise funds for us and to celebrate the life of Rod’s three-and-a-half-year-old son Barney, who died from meningitis in 2005. Duncan and Rod have made a moving video about the challenge, which will also be shown on the Wasps big screen to help raise awareness. You can watch it, and read more about Duncan’s world record attempt and how you can support him, here. You can also read Barney’s story here.

Volunteer bucket collection at Wasps rugby for Meningitis Now - BarneyVolunteer bucket collection at Wasps rugby for Meningitis Now - Duncan

Leah Wynn, our Community Fundraising Manager, said: “What a fantastic gesture by Wasps to support Duncan, Rod and us in this way and we’re really grateful to them for everything they’re doing.

“It’s appropriate too that the game is against Gloucester, given Meningitis Now’s roots in the county, and I hope supporters of both teams will get together to help us kick meningitis into touch.”

Get in touch

So, if you’d like to be part of this special day and help us raise valuable awareness and support Duncan with his marathon fundraising, we’d love to hear from you.

And, if you needed any further incentive, the game itself should be a cracker. It also has the potential to see former Wasps half back pairing of Joe Simpson and Danny Cipriani, now working their magic at Gloucester, return to their old stomping ground.

Neither will you miss the England v Wales Six Nations encounter – the Wasps v Gloucester game will be over by the time that kicks off and it will be shown on big screens around the Ricoh.

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