North Dorset Rugby Club welcomed Bill Sweeney, England Rugby’s Chief Executive Officer, to their clubhouse and grounds in Gillingham on Tuesday 21 September.
Bill saw Year 10 secondary school students from Gillingham School leading training for North Dorset Minis as part of their Sports Leadership programme.
The club’s senior men, girls, aged U12 to U18 and U11s, were out training as usual on pitches which North Dorset had made available to other sports including martial arts and football when restrictions allowed, and other facilities were closed.
A dinner then followed, Bill talked to players, coaches, and board members about life in a rural grassroots club and how the start of the season was going, and there were a couple of presentations. One being from Neil Alexander, Will Alexanders dad, concerning our 70th Anniversary support to help Will Walk Again.
Will can’t walk due to a brain tumour and is pushing himself to relearn how to do this while supporting the Brain Tumour Charity.
Will has bravely undergone a gruelling treatment plan of surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy to fight this disease. Surgery to remove the tumour has sadly left Will in a wheelchair.
North Dorset’s Director of Development Alec Newing said: ‘It has been a positive start to the season here at North Dorset, with decent numbers out on the pitches. Of course, there are always challenges in some teams with competing activities, but overall, we are doing well and constantly thinking about engaging our members and the wider community.
‘In recent months we have been building a stronger relationship with premiership club Bath Rugby, who are making great strides in supporting the community game in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.
‘We have gained new friends in the community since the start of 2020 by helping other sports clubs and running community open events when safe, including mixed touch rugby on Friday nights, the “World’s Biggest Beer Garden’”out on our pitches last summer, and more recently when restrictions eased our popular ND 7s rugby and music festival, which returns next July.’
Bill Sweeney said: ‘Thanks for a tremendously helpful visit to North Dorset RFC. Every aspect was both enjoyable and productive, and you clearly have a great team of volunteers and Board. Congratulations on building such a special environment at the club, you can feel it immediately upon arrival, and you should all be very proud.’
You can donate to Will’s 70m challenge here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/will2walk.