The HANDSTAND Appeal was launched on 05 March 2009, with a fundraising target of £850,000-£950,000 in 16 years. The response from the public has been astonishing, and on 22 December 2011 which, poignantly, was Marshall’s fourth birthday, the Appeal reached £300,000. This has been achieved through many, many people sending donations, and many, many people organising and participating in fundraising events and activities. To achieve this, in less than three years, is remarkable - but there is still a huge financial mountain to climb.
A crucial part of the fundraising effort for Marshall is HANDSTAND Rugby. HANDSTAND Rugby was born by the creation of the HANDSTAND Harlequins – a Rugby team set up to play charity games and raise funds for the Appeal. The initiative received the immediate endorsement of Phil Vickery, the Wasps, England and British & Irish Lions prop forward. The former England captain said, “As a Dad, Meningitis is every parent’s worst nightmare. I hope that the HANDSTAND Appeal raises a lot of much needed funds to help baby Marshall in his life."
Phil’s clothing company, Raging Bull, provided the playing kit for the HANDSTAND Harlequins’ first appearance – at the Tribute Rugby Sevens Tournament at Penryn. In June 2009, the HANDSTAND Harlequins organised a fundraising lunch at the Royal Duchy Hotel in Falmouth. The principal guest was the Welsh & Lions’ legend Mervyn Davies. The event raised £4,000 which, at that point, was the biggest single contribution to the Appeal.
THE HANDSTAND APPEAL & REDRUTH RUGBY
In September 2009, Redruth Rugby announced that they were ‘adopting’ Marshall, and he was subsequently elected Honorary Junior Vice President of the Club and the HANDSTAND logo was incorporated onto the first team’s playing shirt. The Club have committed to a number of fundraising initiatives over the coming months and years to support the Appeal.
Said Dave Penberthy, Director of Rugby at Redruth Rugby, “As a Club, and as a group of players and coaches, we are delighted to support the Appeal for Marshall. If anything was needed to give the team inspiration for the forthcoming season, it is the courage of this little boy, and the strength and dedication of his family and friends. We have many people at the Club who are parents and we cannot even begin to imagine the agony and anguish that his parents and family have endured. We are determined to do everything we can to help.”
Marshall and his Mum and Dad, Stephanie and Moss, are regular visitors to the Club, attending most home games, and Marshall always receives an enthusiastic welcome. Commented Stephanie: “We are treated like royalty. We are so grateful to the Club for their kindness and generosity. What they are doing for us is amazing.”
THE HANDSTAND RUGBY SHIRT
The Appeal launched its own Rugby Shirt in January 2010. Skinner’s, Cornwall’s leading independent brewery, agreed to be the lead sponsor – and to produce a limited edition beer every year for the next three years. The first of these, HANDSTAND Hooch, went on sale just before Christmas.
The HANDSTAND Rugby Shirt has been designed by Hudson Armstrong Design (who designed the HANDSTAND Appeal logo). It is being manufactured by Raging Bull (Phil Vickery's clothing company) and distributed by Lovell Rugby. Lovell Rugby immediately agreed to buy the first 100 shirts – and increased the order to 230 when they saw the design. The Appeal is proud to have incorporated the logo of Redruth RFC into the design. By the end of 2011 almost 1,000 shirts had been sold.
Commented Gerry Reilly, Co-ordinator of the HANDSTAND Appeal. “The design, manufacture and distribution of the HANDSTAND Rugby Shirt has been a substantial undertaking on behalf of the Appeal. We are proud, and very grateful, to be associated with a number of household names, at both a local and national level. We believe that the HANDSTAND Appeal, Skinner’s, Raging Bull, Lovell Rugby, Redruth Rugby and Hudson Armstrong Design, represent a formidable partnership. We are particularly grateful to Lovell Rugby, whose commitment to buying and distributing the first 230 shirts made the project commercially viable."
The HANDSTAND Rugby Shirt is available, priced £39.95 from Lovell Rugby www.lovellrugby.co.uk
All profits from the sale of the HANDSTAND Rugby Shirt will be donated to the Appeal.