Young players at Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby Football Club have raised more than £50,000 for Charing Cross Hospital by passing a rugby ball in their back gardens over the distance from Twickenham to Murrayfield.
The ‘Murrayfield or Bust Challenge’ has proved a fundraising triumph for the club’s youth section.
To achieve the 333-mile distance between London and Edinburgh required a total of 110,000 passes on a single day by the club’s youth players – in back gardens, parks and on any patch of green space that the participants could find.
The ball had to travel more than five metres to qualify as a pass, with each young player trying to achieve 1,000 passes, with friends and families urged to sponsor the challenge.
Hitting the target
The initial target was to raise £10,000 for the hospital in Fulham Palace Road. But generous donations have seen that soar to £51,000.
It was the idea of the Hammers’ youth section’s U9 coaches, with the idea of players from U16s down to minis attracting messages of support from celebrities and sporting stars.
Sporting stars and celebrities including Sir Mo Farah, Joe Wicks, Sir Clive Woodward, Eddie Jones and Chris Robshaw were among those backing the challenge, making short videos to encourage those taking part.
Sir Clive said: “Good luck and well done; it’s a fantastic effort by everybody.” Saracens No8 Billy Vunipola said: “I want to wish you all the best on your passing challenge from Twickenham to Edinburgh.” Exercise king Joe Wicks said: “Good luck to the Hammers in their Murrayfield or Bust Challenge.” England’s highest try scorer Rory Underwood added: “Best of luck with all the passing!”
Now the Friends of Charing Cross Hospital have sent a message of thanks for the 110,000-pass effort, and the money it has raised.
“A big thank-you for raising such a phenomenal amount for our charity,” it read. “We’ve just picked ourselves up from the floor after hearing the amazing news; you must be exhausted!”
When the coronavirus struck, the hospital’s Friends converted their shop into a distribution centre for donations of food and essentials to the most vulnerable, as well as providing free refreshments to hard-pressed hospital staff.
Hammers youth chairman Terry Alleyne said: “We’re thrilled that so many at the club got involved and made such a massive effort.
“I’m very proud of our club, and we’re all looking forward to getting our rugby family back together again as soon as we can.”
The club, set up by a group of teachers from Henry Compton School in 1978, supported by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and based in Hurlingham Park, Fulham, aims to start the new youth season on Sunday 13 September, provided restrictions have been lifted.
Wholly amateur and self-funding, the club fields seven adult teams (five male and two female), and provides rugby for more than 350 young players.
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