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Volunteers answer Kent club’s SOS call

31 January 2014

  • Club members and RFU coaches turn out to clear pitches
  • Tonbridge Juddians erect temporary facilities following floods
A group of Tonbridge Juddians volunteers

Photo: RFU Archive

Volunteers came to the rescue of a local rugby club when the call went out for help to clear the third and fourth team pitches at Tonbridge Juddians RFC this week ready for their weekend matches.

On Wednesday morning (January 29) 24 volunteers, including three RFU staff, joined forces in Kent to help the games go ahead.

The clubhouse and pitches were under water following the severe flooding experienced in Kent over Christmas and the New Year.

Although the council had successfully managed to clear large debris off the pitch, a mass of sharp sticks and rubbish still needed to be raked up by hand. A “Mayday” call went out to club members earlier this week to help get pitches fit for weekend fixtures and support arrived in numbers.

Last weekend, neighbouring club Edenbridge RFC kindly hosted Tonbridge Juddians’ 1st XV home league match against Tring, but the club has now erected a temporary tented village to be able to host home matches at the Slade. 

The marquees have been built to accommodate changing rooms, a temporary bar and pre- and post-match meals. The final piece to complete the jigsaw was clearing the pitches.

The club's RFU Community Rugby Coach, Gareth Hatherley-Hurford, said of the morning's workforce: "This has been a great effort by the volunteers on a dismally wet morning to get the pitches ready for the weekend. Everyone deserves a big pat on the back for giving up their time to help.”

Wheelbarrows, rakes, spades and gardening gloves were the order of the day and RFU Rugby Development Officer Andy Pratt said: "It was a good workout on a cold day, that’s for sure! It sums up rugby really. You can always rely on a team of volunteers to turn out to help the club clear any hurdles it may have. The reward is a mug of coffee and hopefully the satisfaction of seeing games being played at the weekend. Now we just need the weather to help us out!”

Jon Maidman, who acted as workforce coordinator, was delighted with the turnout: “It was good to see the RFU boys down to help us in our hour of need. Our playing members and supporters will really appreciate their effort. Thank you to all the volunteers who got down and dirty and a special thanks to Jerry Crick's mobile coffee van Mochafella for supplying the hot refreshments!”