Hearts + Balls was conceived in 1999 when a player from the Lismore Rugby Club in Edinburgh suffered a serious spinal injury that left him paralysed.
Having run a highly successful appeal, Lismore decided to widen its support to cover other players impacted by serious injury or illness. Thus, Hearts + Balls came into being with the aim of ‘helping rugby help its own’.
Since its beginnings in 1999, we have donated in the region of £700,000 to rugby players and their families. Through advice and advocacy, we also help them identify and apply for funds from other sources.
The kind of support we are able to offer includes:
- new wheelchairs for players with spinal injuries
- specialist mattresses for players with spinal injuries
- adapting the home and garden of a spinally-injured player
- car insurance for a specialist vehicle for a spinally-injured player
- an additional carer to accompany a spinally-injured player on holiday
- mortgage interest payments for the wife and young children of a player who died from a heart problem when playing rugby
- specialist IT equipment for a spinally-injured player returning to study
- legal costs of setting up a trust for an injured player
We also work with national and international bodies and charities to help provide specialist vehicles and other equipment.
Apart from specially-targeted marketing assistance for events, no salaries are taken from Hearts + Balls’ funds. All directors give their time and expertise on a voluntary basis.
Willie enjoyed playing rugby over twenty years in Gala. Willie is a Chartered IT Professional, with many years of experience within the banking sector. He is an active STEM ambassador and mentor in Schools and Universities. Willie joined the Board of Hearts+Balls to help others less fortunate than himself.
Liam’s brief and unremarkable rugby career began and ended at Kirkwall Grammar, Orkney in the 1980s. When his younger brother, Dug was left quadriplegic after a terrible rugby accident in 1996, Liam became involved in efforts to raise funds and provide financial and emotional support for players and their families affected by serious injury. This developed into the creation of Hearts & Balls, of which Liam has been a Director from the start. He has even picked up a winners medal when Hearts & Balls won the Orkney 7s in 2017 – so far the only Member of the Scottish Parliament do so!
Fergus is Managing Director of The Sports Network Group Limited. Fergus is delighted to be a director with Hearts + Balls. Initially trained as a quantity surveyor, he had a successful career in the construction industry before a change in direction took him into the events and hospitality business. Alongside his career, he was a successful rugby player in his day, captaining Glasgow for 6 years, winning their last trophy before the Pro 12 win in 2014. He also captained Scotland on a tour to Zimbabwe and gained numerous Scotland A caps as well as playing 7’s for Scotland at the World famous Hong Kong 7’s. He is also a keen golfer and would watch or take part in almost any sport.
Donald enjoyed playing rugby over many years and was lucky to live and play in New Zealand towards the end of his career. His undoubted rugby highlight was playing in the second half of a tie at the Crieff Sevens with his two sons! He is a Scottish Chartered Accountant with many years of business experience across a range of sectors. Donald joined the Board of Hearts + Balls in an attempt to give something back to those less fortunate than himself in a sport that has given him so much.
A PR professional, Gregor played spent his playing career with GHK. Despite a number of surgeries and injuries, he realised how lucky he was to end his career unscathed and wanted to give back. After raising significant funds for the charity alongside his former GHK team mates, Gregor took on the position of associate director.
Having been schooled at Stewarts Melville and completed both a Bachelors’ and Masters’ degree at the University of Aberdeen, Alex is now an aspiring History teacher. A former captain at Aberdeen Grammar and Scotland U20 cap, he now plies his trade for Heriots in the BT Premiership.
Graham Docherty played for GHK before heading to South Africa where he played for Wanderers in Johannesburg. Returning to Scotland he joined the Edinburgh based family business with his father Jim, a Scottish internationalist from the famous Glasgow High side of the 1950’s, and his brother, Craig, who is now working with Scottish Rugby. So, he is a man with a rugby background! Graham is a Chartered Accountant with many years of experience in business which he hopes to use to good effect with Hearts & Balls.
Stuart played his school rugby at Heriots, then played at Corstorphine until work took him to South Africa. He was a very average player but managed to play in every position on the field during his rugby career!
Stuart is a qualified Chartered Accountant with experience of a number of business
sectors and is responsible for the finances of Hearts + Balls.
Sandra will already be well known to many of you as the other half of ‘Team Taylor’
As a pair, Jim and Sandra were instrumental in organising many of the successful fundraisers over the years for Hearts and Balls and were always ready to contribute fresh ideas and be on hand if needed at many of the events .
Sadly, Jim passed away in December 2022 and Sandra will now take up the role as a Hearts+ Balls Board Member, bringing with her a wealth of experience to the charity.
In her own right Sandra served on the Kelvinside School Board from 2016 to 2022 and has run her own successful business for 30 years.
This background combined with her excellent people skills and a large network of contacts built up over the years will undoubtedly be an important asset to the Hearts and Balls team going forward.
Struan Kerr-Liddell started playing rugby at school in Scotland at the age of 9. Whilst at Edinburgh University in 1999 he broke his neck playing for Lismore RFC. Since then he has worked as a software engineer. He now has 2 children. Struan joined Hearts and Balls as an Ambassador in order to give back to the community that has helped him over the near 25 years since his injury.
We have developed relationships with several partner organisations including:
- Scottish Rugby
- Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation
- New Zealand Rugby Foundation
- The Sportsman’s Charity
- The Bill McLaren Foundation
- Hearts Ballsin Union-Australia
If you know of, or are involved with, any other organisations which might work with Hearts & Balls to help rugby help its own, please contact us.