Hearts+Balls, a charity which provides support for injured rugby players, will host a celebration at Balgray Playing Fields on 29 June to thank players, clubs, businesses and supporters for raising more than £50,000 already this year.
But the charity refuses to rest on its laurels. After an incredible six months of fundraising, Hearts + Balls has challenged the rugby community to surpass £100,000 of fundraising for the year.
Stuart Hogg kickstarted the campaign – literally – by gifting his time at his hometown club Hawick. The Scotland full-back donated an afternoon of kicking lessons at his old stomping ground, which provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young rugby players to get pointers from one of the best in the business, in return for a donation.
Hogg himself had an ignominious end to his Glasgow Warriors career when a controversial tackle from Rob Kearney crocked him in last month’s PRO14 final. This is just one reason the new Exeter Chiefs star appreciates the need for financial help for those who have left the game but still bear the scars of participation.
Hogg is not the only one willing to throw his weight behind the campaign. In recent months clubs, businesses, players and fans have come together to raise more than £50k, all of which will be funnelled into helping Hearts+Balls fulfil its mission – to help members of the rugby community who need it most.
Former Scotland international and BBC broadcaster John Beattie, whose rugby career was cut short because of a knee injury, will provide the entertainment for the night as he turns up with his band.
Hearts + Balls ambassador Jim Taylor, who was paralysed after he suffered a broken neck when a scrummage collapsed in a game in 1978 against Old Aloysians, said: “The support the charity gives to injured players is absolutely lifechanging, I can speak from experience. On behalf of the charity, I would like to say a huge thanks to every single person who has donated, rowed, ran or done anything whatsoever to support. Their efforts will inspire us to surpass six figures this year – knowing our supporters, I wouldn’t bet against us!
“Last year’s event, which marked 40 years since my injury, was a tremendous success and I can’t wait to catch-up with everyone as we welcome back supporters to Balgray for the second time.”
Some astonishing fundraising tales have emerged from the first half of the year. Gordon Hollerin (62), a GHK committee member, raised more than £7,000 by running the London Marathon for the charity and donations from the Glasgow Warriors annual dinner raised more than £15,000.
Elsewhere, GHK rugby club, surpassed £20,000 of funds raised for the charity in recent years with a further £4,000 raised during its annual dinner, the Sportsman’s charity raised £13k from its dinner and a successful event at the Jam House in Edinburgh, hosted by former Scotland captain and current Hearts + Balls board member Al Kellock, raised nearly £5,000 for the charity.
The Mighty Bovs, an invitational sevens side further boosted the fundraising total with a 24 hour spin cycle which raised more than £4k, while Hearts+Balls’ own invitational sevens side celebrated incredible success both on and off the pitch by winning the Mull sevens in May and raising £7,000 themselves.
More donations came in from Helensburgh and Hyndland rugby club, while the business also contributed with Argyle Consulting donating £5,000.
Tickets for the Hearts+Balls festival at Kelvinside Academy’s Balgray Playing Fields are available through Eventbrite and are priced at £25 per head but are just £20 for the under-25s. All tickets include food and entertainment with all profit going towards the initiative to support former players who suffer the debilitating ill-effects of lasting injury.
The event has received support from architectural and design company HOKO, marketing agency BIG Partnership and Harper Macleod, an award winning & leading independent Scottish commercial & personal law firm with offices throughout Scotland.