The founder of a touch rugby group in Coventry which has become like ‘a family’ for dozens of people in the community has been named as a winner of a leading Midland law firm’s kindness campaign.
Simon Rockcliffe, of Eastern Green, Coventry, was inspired to set up Touch Rugby Coventry after joining Wasps’ Move Like A Pro (MLAP) programme in early 2018, which helps men aged 30 to 55 to lose weight and lead healthier lifestyles.
Not only did Simon shed four inches from his waistline while on the MLAP programme, but he also gained a group of friends who were able to support him through the loss of his daughter – and just weeks after he had completed the MLAP course, he started up his own touch rugby sessions.
Since then, Touch Rugby Coventry has grown in popularity with those taking part not just thriving on the pitch but also acting as a support group for each other.
Around 30 players with an age range of 16 to 67 take part in weekly sessions every Wednesday between 6.30pm and 8pm at Coventrians Rugby Club in Holbrooks.
Now Simon’s efforts in leading the group have been recognised by regional law firm Wright Hassall in their 175 Acts of Kindness initiative.
The scheme has been launched to celebrate Wright Hassall’s 175th anniversary and asks the public to nominate members of the community who have gone above and beyond to support others.
Each month employees from the firm select a winner from the nominations who receives £175 to donate to a charity of their choice.
Simon said: “I suffered with my mental health when I lost my daughter and if it were not for those people who were there to pick me up I do not know whether I would be here today.
“Rugby helped me to find a close group of friends who were able to support me, and when I started Touch Rugby Coventry I wanted to help others in the same way.
“The group is not just a weekly touch rugby session, it feels like a massive family in the sense that we have cried together and laughed together, supporting each other through the ups and downs of life.
“It has been an amazing experience to see the group not just develop as players, but also to support each other in the way they have while having a lot of fun too.
“To be recognised by Wright Hassall’s Acts of Kindness initiative is really recognition for everyone in the way they have embraced the group and created such a supportive network.
“They have helped me as well and they are due just as much credit.”
Simon, 40, has chosen to give his donation to the NICE charity, which provides services and training in conductive education for adults and children with neurological motor disorders, helping them to reach the potential they deserve.
Robert Lee, Corporate Partner at Wright Hassall, said: “Simon’s enthusiasm and passion has helped to lead Touch Rugby Coventry from being quite a small weekly session to one which has helped many in the community.
“It really does demonstrate the positive benefits which sport and groups such as these can have for the community.
“The award is thoroughly deserved and the donation will go to a very worthy cause.”