A 100-mile cycle around twelve grassroots clubs in under eight hours; that’s the challenge that a group of former Northampton Saints players have set themselves to help raise money for the Club’s new Benevolent Fund.
The group – made up of 15 former Saints with over 1,000 appearances between them – will begin their route on Saturday 27 August at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens and embark on a 100-mile Tour of the Shire, passing through eleven other grassroots rugby clubs across the county before rounding off the cycle back at Northampton’s home ground.
Arriving in time for gates to open at the men in Black, Green and Gold’s pre-season friendly against Bedford Blues, the former Saints – led by #1741 Simon Hepher – are aiming to raise £5,000 for the Northampton Saints Benevolent Fund.
The Fund, launched earlier this year, provides direct support to past and current players and staff members – as well as their immediate dependents – during times of need and aims to help individuals faced with challenges including (but not limited to) injury, illness, disability, and bereavement by providing financial support or signposting other organisations which may also be able to help.
“We’re delighted to see so many former players coming back together for the ride,” said Paul Shields, Saints’ Head of Recruitment and Retention and current Benevolent Fund Chair. “The whole thing is really Simon’s brainchild; he’s done a brilliant job pulling it all together.
“Keeping the community among our former players is something the Club’s been working hard on in recent seasons and to see so many come together to support the Fund now is fantastic.”Paul Shields, Benevolent Fund Chair
Recently-retired Club legend Tom Wood, 200-time Saint Grant Seely, and Northampton centurions Matt Allen, Darren Fox, Simon Foale, Ben Ward and Rob MacNaughton are among the riders taking on the challenge – with Northampton BBOB RFC, Long Buckby RFC, Daventry RFC and Bugbrooke RFC the first four clubs on the route.
The group – which also includes Barry Burgess, Arthur Prestidge, Allan Hughes and Saints’ Head of Academy Mark Hopley – will then head to Towcestrians RFC, Northampton Mens Own RFC, Wellingborough RFC, Rushden & Higham RFC and Kettering RFC.
And the 15 former Saints will round off their ride back in town as they head to Old Northamptonians RFC, Northampton Old Scouts RFC and Northampton Casuals RFC ahead of arriving at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
Shields continued: “There’s a great group tackling the ride, but with them starting off at 4.30am I think they might need a bit of support on the route to get through it all – I know they’ve added a few strategic pitstops in!
“It’s a great way to start the season off and we’d love to see people digging deep to support them. Hopefully lots of people will be cheering them on when they make it through the stadium gates!”
To donate to the 100-mile Tour of the Shire in support of the Northampton Saints Benevolent Fund, please CLICK HERE.
The group will cycle into cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens at approximately 1pm on Saturday 27 August, ahead of Saints’ preseason clash with Bedford Blues. Tickets for the match – priced at £10 adults / £5 junior* – can be purchased HERE.
To find out more about the Northampton Saints Benevolent Fund, apply for a grant or find out about volunteering/fundraising opportunities please CLICK HERE.