Old Reigatians Rugby Football Club have added a tough new opponent to their fixture list for the 2017/18 season. They have chosen to step up the fight against Motor Neurone Disease (MND), the devastating, progressive and ultimately terminal neurological condition which takes away an individual's ability to use his/her limbs, to speak, to swallow and, ultimately, to breathe.
"We have been inspired by friends of the club who suffer from the disease, and others whose relatives are engaged in courageous ongoing battles," says club chairman David Forsyth. "We are setting ourselves the task of pooling the resources of our club into a fundraising effort of a size we have never attempted before. However, we recognise that money only ever goes so far. We also aim to raise awareness of this disease and its many calamitous consequences among our members, and the wider community."
Early-season raffles and an auction at a special dinner to mark the club's 90th anniversary have already raised over £7000 for local and national initiatives aimed at improving care and funding the all-important research to find a cure. Other events currently planned for the season include a Ladies' Lunch, a Quiz Night, a Golf Day, a Beer Festival and an End of Season Ball.
"Rugby Union has been hit hard by MND in recent years," observes Forsyth. "The Scottish international, Doddie Weir, was diagnosed earlier this year and, in typical fashion, is now fighting the disease at the same time as raising awareness and funds. The World Cup winning Springbok scrum-half, Joost van der Westhuizen, sadly passed away with MND in February after a long fight. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a South Africa shirt signed by him raised over £3000 for the cause at our recent dinner."
To further show its support the club has produced a new second kit which incorporates the MND Association logo in its design.
David Setters, himself an Old Reigatian, lives with MND in South Nutfield, and is assisting the club in its fundraising efforts. "I'm relatively fortunate to have a slowly progressive version of the disease," he says. "MND frequently hits people far younger than myself and many often have young families. And, with a third of those diagnosed passing away within a year from diagnosis, it is often far more aggressive. I'm close to many people at the club, so it is immensely heartwarming to see this fantastic effort take shape."
The club would be delighted to welcome visitors to its Park Lane, Reigate headquarters to support these efforts. All details of fundraising events throughout the year will be posted on the club website. https://oldreigatianrfc.com/