Local pupils and children in need supported by a Warwickshire-wide befriending charity received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this weekend, when they joined their local rugby heroes on the pitch at the Ricoh Arena and became part of official match day proceedings.
Gallagher Flag Bearers from The Romero Catholic Academy

As Wasps RFC prepared to take on Northampton Saints on Sunday (6th January), local children from The Romero Catholic Academy and The Friendship Project received the honour of acting as mascots and flagbearers for the game, courtesy of insurance broker and risk management specialist Gallagher, the title partner of Premiership Rugby.

Those taking part were given the opportunity to be on the pitch alongside their rugby heroes, in front of the cheering crowds, before watching the match as guests of Gallagher. Pupils from five of the eight schools which make up The Romero Catholic Academy and young people from The Friendship Project partnered with Wasps players as mascots, while children from The Friendship Project and The Romero Catholic Academy acted as flag bearers, forming a ‘Guard of Honour’ as the players ran onto the pitch.

The children were invited to join the special event — known as a Gallagher Game Day — by the broker whose local Coventry branch is one of a 50-strong network throughout the UK. It is one of 12 such events Gallagher is holding with each of the Premiership Rugby clubs across the course of the 2018/19 season in its bid to introduce rugby to a wider audience and bring together the rugby community. As a community broker, Gallagher is engaging with local schools, charities and grass roots rugby representatives to ensure the Game Days provide an opportunity for these individuals and organisations to join the broker’s own family, friends and clients to celebrate the partnership as one.

Kathryn Moon, Managing Director of Gallagher’s Coventry branch, said: “Our Gallagher Game Day at Wasps was a fantastic way to bring to life our partnership as well as get local children involved in and impassioned by a sport that is driven by the strong and important values of trust, teamwork and respect. We were also delighted to reconnect with The Friendship Project — giving some of their young people a real experience to remember — having been a supporter of the charity for more than 30 years through our Coventry chairman Cheryll Rawbone.

Halftime Coaching Clinic

“As a business, our partnership with Premiership Rugby provides us with a great platform to demonstrate our commitment to the local communities we serve. It also enables us to offer young people from the area the opportunity to enjoy this experience with us, and we remain committed to working with organisations and individuals throughout Warwickshire to help them grow, thrive and achieve.”

Cheryll Rawbone, Gallagher’s chairman of its Coventry branch, who has been involved with the Friendship Project since its inception in 1986 and now serves as Chairman, said: “Boosting the self-esteem of local children and young people the charity supports, by giving them access to experiences they would not otherwise enjoy because of personal challenges, is what The Friendship Project is all about. So being able to let some of our children share in the on-pitch action at Wasps was just brilliant, not only for the excitement but to enable them to witness how hard work, commitment and camaraderie through sport can lead to success.”

Pupils who took part in the Gallagher Game Day were selected from Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School, Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School, St. John Fisher Catholic Primary School and SS Peter and Paul Catholic Academy, all part of The Romero Catholic Academy.

Patrick Taggart, Academy Business Director at The Romero Catholic Academy, added: “We were delighted to take part in the Gallagher Game Day and would like to say a big thank you to Gallagher and Wasps for inviting us and being such great hosts. Respect, integrity and excellence are all values we share with rugby and it was great for our pupils to see these principles brought to life in such a passionate and exhilarating atmosphere. I’m sure this experience will be one that lives long in our pupils’ memories.”

To learn more about The Friendship Project, visit: www.friendshipproject.co.uk