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.

Directors

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.

Hugh Dan MacLennan – Chair

Hugh Dan MacLennan’s interest in rugby began in Lochaber High School, at the time primarily a shinty/football playing school. His first encounter with serious rugby was a Scotland v England international at Murrayfield in the mid-1970s watching Bob Hiller dig holes in the hallowed turf. School trips to Murrayfield and matches in Inverness, Oban and Fort Augustus set him on a path to maintaining his interest in the oval ball whilst at University, whilst following other pursuits.

Rugby fans will be familiar with his voice as a commentator on rugby and other sports with BBC ALBA and as stadium announcer at the home of Glasgow Warriors.

He called time on his 40-year broadcasting career after his last commentary, the Fosroc Super Series final at Hive stadium in November 2023. He has commentated on football, shinty, rugby, curling and two World Orienteering championships, one of which saw him, along with his TV director, get lost trying to find the day’s events in a Swedish forest.

Now officially retired from his formal roles as a broadcaster, writer, historian, communications specialist, and journalist based in Alloa since 2015,Hugh Dan is working on two book projects and is involved with a number of Trusts and Charitable organisations to pass the time when not golfing.

He is a committee member of GROGS (Glasgow Rugby Old Geezers. He is a Board member of Sporting Heritage UK and was the first Sportswriter in Residence at the National Library of Scotland in 2017.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Aberdeen in 2023 for his contribution to Gaelic , broadcasting and sport. The Camanachd Association, shinty’s governing body presented him with the Mowi Centenary Award for his outstanding contribution to shinty and also gave him a silver mounted caman.

Hugh Dan was a great friend of the late Jim Taylor MBE and he regards his role as Chair of Hearts and Balls as a tribute to Jim.

Willie Bell

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 McArthur

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!

VIKI MENDELSSOHN

Viki was one of the pioneers of Women’s rugby in the 1990’s and helped to found the first ever women’s club at Liberton RFC. She claims to be the fastest No 10’s over 3m and her final swansong on the playing field was to found the women’s section at Watsonians RFC and take them from Div 3 to the Premiership when she finally hung up her boots.

Viki has worked in professional rugby for over 20 years working with 3 front of shirt sponsors; The Famous Grouse, Murray and most recently Peter Vardy alongside clients such as: Edinburgh Rugby, Glasgow Warriors, Emirates, Scottish Rugby and managed the 2011 Touch Rugby World Cup.

Fergus Wallace

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 Wilson

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.

Alex Hagart

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

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 RAE

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 Taylor

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.

Graham FISKEN

Graham, who cut his rugby teeth playing in the youth section of Biggar RFC, went on to join West of Scotland FC while studying Law in Glasgow. After four years at West, where he helped his side to Premier Two victory, he joined Ayr RFC and was part of that Premiership and Cup double winning team in 2012/13.

Whilst at West and Ayr he was selected for the Scotland 7s squad and was fortunate enough to play in the HSBC World Rugby 7’s tournaments around the world.

Upon qualifying as a lawyer in 2016, he retired from playing and now enjoys golfing in summer and skiing in winter .

Ambassadors

STRUAN KERR-LIDDELL

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.

ZANDER FAGERSON

Zander Fagerson, Glasgow Warriors’ legendary centurion tight head forward and Scottish international, was a long-time friend of the late Jim Taylor MBE who was a key person in the development of the Hearts + Balls Charitable Trust’s work, helping support rugby players who are living with the implications of life-changing injuries sustained while playing.

He was named as the Warriors’ best international player of the 23-24 season, playing a key part in the run up to Glasgow Warriors’ 2023/24 BKT URC playoffs, playing a remarkable 240 minutes in the knockouts on the way to victory over the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria in the Grand Final.

Zander made his debut for Glasgow Warriors in a 43-20 victory over Treviso in Italy in October 2014. He is Warrior #234 and scored  his first try for the club in October 2015, scoring in a 29-15 win over the Dragons at Scotstoun.

He is now a near ever-present in the matchday squad for Glasgow, developing into one of the premier tight-heads in the northern hemisphere. He was a key member of the Warriors squad that reached back-to-back Guinness PRO14 semi-finals in 2017/18 and 2018/19, also playing in the Final at Celtic Park in the latter campaign.

He made his international debut against England in the 2016 Six Nations, before – alongside brother Matt – becoming part of the 48th set of brothers to represent Scotland in 2018.

Fagerson reached a century of Glasgow Warriors appearances in May 2021, leading the team out in a 29-19 victory over Edinburgh at Scotstoun. His consistent excellence for club and country  saw him named in the 2021 British and Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa, taking the field for the first tour match against the Sigma Lions at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, becoming Lion #848.

Zander represented his country at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, scoring his first international try against the hosts in the final pool match. He is a product of the High School of Dundee, and represented the school at U16, where he helped them win the Brewin Dolphin Plate before moving to Strathallan.

It is a little-known fact that outside of rugby, Fagerson won the 2010 Scottish Downhill Mountain Bike Championship.

Partners

We have developed relationships with several partner organisations including:

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.