Cheltenham Shoot with Mike Tindall

N. Fitt – Success Story



In early 2016 I was lucky enough to be given a space on the Rugby For Heroes Transition Through Rugby Course.  Having been a lifelong rugby player, after old age and injury caught up with me coaching seemed to be the natural next step.  The course was incredibly enjoyable and taught me how to be a coach.  The support from Rugby For Heroes was great it enabled me to make the most of the opportunity and really develop my skills as a coach.  Once I returned home I was keen to make use of my qualification and started to explore opportunities to coach and learn more.  I was fortunate to strike lucky early on and started coaching for London Irish.  It just so happened that in this instance Rugby For Heroes again helped me out.  One of the most powerful things for me about rugby is the community and network.  It’s very similar to the Military but does take a little bit of getting used to.  The head of community rugby at London Irish knew of the charity and also knew a couple of those involved, these shared contacts and relationships helped me get my foot in the door.

Fast forward to 16 Jul 2016 and I spent the day at the Stood taking part in the Harlequins Community Department induction day.  For me, the opportunity I have been given and been able to develop from the seeds that Rugby for Heroes sowed back in February have been amazing.  It has given me a whole new avenue outside the Military and really is delivering the transition aspect of the charities aims.   Prior to starting with Harlequins I have also been involved more with the charity and took part in a coaching and playing tour to Germany.  For me this was really important.  It was a group of likeminded individuals coming together and doing what we love and passing on our newly found skills to the wider community.  Getting to play a game of rugby again was a real bonus.  What really struck me in the sense of belonging and camaraderie – in this regard Rugby for Heroes and the transition course are absolutely outstanding.  This is one of those occasions where you absolutely get out what you put in.

For me the charity is an amazing organisation which is providing really valuable opportunities.  It has taken some work on my part but none of this would have been possible without Rugby For Heroes.  While I will coach now for Harlequins, the sense of belonging and friendship that the charity offers will always bring me back and make me want to help and be part of it in to the future.

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The 4th Mike Tindall Celebrity Golf Classic

groupGolfOn Friday 20 May, the Mike Tindall Celebrity Golf Classic took place at The Belfry in Warwickshire. This was the fourth of its kind, with this year’s proceeds being split between Rugby for Heroes and the Matt Hampson Foundation.

The weather thankfully went against the forecast to provide a dry and mostly sunny day as stars of sport and entertainment gathered to take on the challenge of the Brabazon Course, which is of course famous for hosting the European Ryder Cup victory in 2002. Our Patron, Mike Tindall was joined by wife Zara as well as the likes of Nick Wood, Ben Foden, Thom Evans & Austin Healey from the world of Rugby, AP McCoy & Mick Fitzgerald from the world of National Hunt Racing and Vernon Kay, Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy & Brian Mcfadden from the entertainment world.bails1

The event was once again a tremendous success with the evening gala dinner raising a huge amount for both charities through both a live and silent auction. The Charity would like to thank everyone involved in the golf day, in particular our Patron Mike and Autumn Phillips for putting on such a wonderful event. Their continued support is hugely appreciated by everyone involved in the Charity but most importantly buy those the Charity is able to support as a result. 

Should you be interested in entering a team in to a future event then we would be delighted to hear from you.

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R4H Tour to play British Army Germany (BAG), Paderborn 12-15 May 2016

Junior-Paramore-coaching-masterclass-lrOn 12 May 2016, Rugby for Heroes took a team out to Paderborn to play British Army Germany (BAG) in what was the first of its kind for the Charity. As well as fulfilling the fixture against BAG, the aim of the tour was to promote the Charity within the armed forces, in particular the Charity’s “Transition Through Rugby” courses, which offers a Level 2 coaching qualification.
The squad was hosted by the 1st Armoured Medical Regiment at Dempsey Barracks and was made up of a number of armed forces personnel who had successfully completed the courses as well as ex professional rugby players including Junior Paramore (ex Samoa & Gloucester), Kevin Yates (ex Bath, Saracens & England) and Jon Goodridge (ex Gloucester & Bristol). The squad was managed by Charity Ambassador and actor Julian Lewis Jones. Team-manager-Julian-Lewis-Jones-dishing-out-the-instructions-lr

As well as the match against BAG, two coaching clinics were also hosted for British schoolchildren currently based in Germany. This not only provided the children with the opportunity to meet and be coached by stars of the game but also offered an opportunity to the Charity’s qualified Level 2 coaches to further their experience and put in to practice the qualification obtained through the Rugby for Heroes transition courses.

The game itself took place on Saturday 14 May and was a hard fought contest by two evenly matched sides, with the R4H XV running out eventual winners 41-19. Speaking on behalf of the Charity, trustee Simon Bailey commented: “Whilst obviously a pleasing result for the Charity, it was the overall success of the weekend and the reception given by our hosts that was the most memorable aspect. We very much hope that this will be the first of many tours and have no doubt revenge for the defeat is already in the planning!” logo8231310_lg

The Charity wishes to thank everyone who assisted in making the tour such a success but in particular British Army Germany, our tour sponsor Pneuma Roofing and our ex professionals and ambassadors for giving their time (and ageing bodies!) so generously.

(Photos courtesy of Cpl J Dudding RLC)

Video Link – click here

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Royal Air Force Akrotiri Cyprus charity auction dinner night – 22 April 2016

For the 4th year running Rugby For Heroes are proud to be supporting the annual Royal Air Force Akrotiri Charity Dinner Night on Friday 22nd April 2016. The Ambassadors representing the Charity this year include Olympian Jamie Baulch, and former professional rugby players Henry Paul and Junior Paramore. All three, who were ‘team-mates’ during the recent high profile Rugby Aid game against the Army Masters, will be chaperoned by Lieutenant Colonel Spike Quant MBE, the Charities appointed Military Liaison.

Jamie Baulch takes contact

Jamie Baulch takes contact

Henry Paul in action

Henry Paul in action

RAF Akrotiri is an operational airfield located on the southernmost tip of the beautiful island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. It will be an exciting place for the Ambassadors to visit because there are a lot of fast jets based there just now, providing support to on-going operations in the Middle East, so the place is literally buzzing with activity.

Junior Paramore feels for a gap

Junior Paramore feels for a gap

The main aim of this event is for the Ambassadors to engage with the wider Service community and meet the military service men, women and their families who are living a long way from home. The Ambassadors will enjoy the rare opportunity of being hosted around an operational airbase and get up close up to the latest Typhoon and Tornado fast jets. They will also get to visit the on-base school and interact with the children, be interviewed by the local British Forces radio station and then help coach the children at the thriving rugby club. The visit will culminate with a live auction dinner night, where our Ambassadors will participate in a Question and Answer session before getting involved in the fun of encouraging those attending to dig deep into their pockets to help raise funds for our own charity and the local charities chosen by RAF Akrotiri.

Transition Through Rugby – Sqn Ldr Stuart Gerrard FCMI MBA

Last year a host of Rugby stars and Celebrities lined up to play in a Rugby Aid match which saw the Rest of the World team narrowly defeat a select England side. The match raised funds for the Charity Rugby for Heroes which has used some of the funds to launch the course Transition Through Rugby.

The Transition through Rugby Course is an intensive 1 week course which mentors participants through the RFU courses Rugby Ready, Scrum Factory and Level 2 Coaching the 15-a-side game, as well as the Level 1 Referee qualification. But the course is about so much more than gaining rugby qualifications.

Picture2 In 2011 the wider rugby community and professional player network recognised the similarities between a professional transitioning from a Career in Rugby and Service Leavers transitioning into the Civilian sector. The Rugby community has long been a staunch supporter of the Armed Forces and through a deeper understanding of the difficulties associated with individuals transitioning into the Civilian Sector, they decided that they could do more by providing opportunities for Service Leavers through the Rugby network. When this aspiration was combined with the funding from Rugby for Heroes, Transition through Rugby was born.

Sgt Jeff Williams based at RAF Northolt was a recent graduate of the course. “I have been watching rugby all my life and so this course was always going to appeal, but it surpassed all my expectations, the content and delivery was excellent. To be learning about networking through Rugby, coaching and refereeing in a tri-service Rugby environment meant the banter was always there. Learning from Rugby professionals, International athletes, course mentors and peers about Rugby and the transition into Civi Street was exciting, challenging and educational”. Asked what he would do next, Sgt Williams highlighted “firstly I need to go and revise refereeing hand signals because even though I have been watching the game for 40 years and thought I knew them all, I don’t!”. Secondly Jeff was going to look to join his local rugby club as a player/coach to start using his new qualifications and begin building a network outside of the RAF.Picture4

Former SAC Pete McCarthy who served for 11 years with the RAF, ending his Career at RAF Odiham was also a graduate of Transition through Rugby. Pete now runs his own first aid business which amongst other services provides first aiders to Rugby clubs across the country. Since graduating Pete has been coaching the U14’s at Harrow on the Hill rugby club. In addition Pete has decided to give playing another go and was about to pull on his boots again for the first time in 5 years. On top of the coaching, the course showed me another community outside of the RAF that I instantly felt at home with. Whilst business is going really well the Rugby Community have opened up even more opportunities to me and I am trying to give as much back to that Community as they are giving me”.

Former South African International Thinus Delport who played professional Rugby for 14 years and served with the South African Armed forces as part of National Service is a Coach and Mentor on the Transition through Rugby course. Thinus highlights that the course is not about guys walking away with a job in Rugby, it is about providing them with the confidence and skills to walk into any Rugby club feel valued and meet a like-minded Community of people. Some of our graduates are volunteering at clubs like Harlequins and Bath whilst others have opted to use their qualifications coaching at mini rugby level at their local club.
RFU Community Rugby Coach Dave Barley wanted to get involved with the course because he felt the Rugby Community gained a lot by embracing and learning from the skills and experiences that members of the RAF and Services are recognised for. “Rugby as a sport is short of coaches and referees, bringing in dedicated, committed professionals from the Services, into Rugby clubs, only help the game develop. In turn the Rugby Community can give Veterans a sense of belonging and a network to assist them on their journey as they leave the RAF.

Picture1Alan Lamb a founder of the course states “there are some obvious parallels that can be drawn between the UK’s Armed Forces and the sport of rugby – the traditions and core values of: leadership, teamwork, commitment, discipline, courage, respect, loyalty and camaraderie are all values in which the sport of rugby and the military unite behind and aspire to, and it is these values that the Charity Rugby for Heroes champions through the delivery of the Transition through Rugby”.

The next course is scheduled to run during the period 5-10 Jun 16, there are 4 courses run per year which are open to any serving or former member of the armed forces, irrelevant of rank and service background. Further details are available at or email

Rugby for Heroes visit to New Belvedere House

On 22 March 2016, Rugby for Heroes Patron Mike Tindall MBE, Trustee Simon Bailey & Head of Fundraising Alan Lamb visited New Belvedere House in East London, a hostel run by the charity Veterans Aid to provide care and support to ex armed services personnel. The hostel is currently undergoing a £7m refurbishment project, which once completed will provide high quality accommodation for up to 63 homeless veterans.

With monies raised from the inaugural Rugby Aid event in September 2015, the Trustees of Rugby for Heroes approved a grant application for £25,000 towards the cost of the refurbishment of a room within the hostel. The visit was arranged to view the progress of the development project and see where the money is being invested. The hostel staff and Veterans Aid representatives were on hand to provide an informed tour of the facility, led by CEO Dr Hugh Milroy and manager of New Belvedere House, Pat O’Connor. Most notably some of the current residents were also on hand to discuss their experiences and how the facility had benefitted them personally.

Speaking on behalf of Rugby for Heroes, Mike Tindall commented: “The visit was a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand the work that is being done at New Belvedere House and to be able to meet and talk to some of the residents to see how they have benefitted was a real privilege. We are delighted that Rugby for Heroes has been able to assist in some way to such a hugely important project.”

Simon Bailey added: “As a Charity this was a project that we were extremely keen to support. The success of Rugby Aid made this possible and as a result the Trustees were absolutely delighted to be able to approve a grant to help support the ongoing work at New Belvedere House.”