Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s valued role as Rugby League Cares hosts special event in Westminster

The value of having friends in high places was evident as Rugby League Cares hosted a special event within the Palace of Westminster to celebrate the charity’s world class health programmes.

WHEN a group of 70 MPs tabled a vote of no confidence over his handling of calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, it’s fair to say that the Speaker of the House of Commons had had better days.  

Indeed, Sir Lindsay Hoyle only had to look back less than 24 hours to a more upbeat date in his diary and a reception organised by RL Cares at his historic chambers. 

Sir Lindsay, a lifelong Warrington fan and former chairman of Chorley Borough, is a passionate supporter of the work of both RL Cares and the RL Benevolent Fund, and generously agreed to host the event at Speaker’s House. 

In his capacity as President of the Rugby Football League, Sir Lindsay spoke from the heart in January at the annual RFL President’s Ball in Leeds. And on a memorable evening a few months later, representatives from the health sector, Parliamentarians, RFL guests and the charity’s partners, including Movember, Slater Heelis, All Sport Insurance, Howorth Air Tech and the Bartlett Group, came together in his London home to toast the charity’s important activities.

“Mental health is something that affects everybody. When you have been at the top of your profession as player, retirement has a deep impact on both you and your family, so the more that we can do to ensure that mental fitness and healthy lifestyles support is present the better.

“I have been fortunate to listen to, and speak to, players and families who have benefited from the work of Rugby League Cares and it always leaves me feeling truly proud of the rugby league community. 

“We are leaders for others to follow. It’s the acts of kindness and the lengths to which people go to support others that makes our sport so special and I am delighted to welcome RL Cares here.”

Sir Lindsay also paid tribute to former Wakefield MP and current RL Cares trustee David Hinchliffe for his outstanding efforts during his Parliamentary career “fighting the many injustices” rugby league has faced, including lobbying to lift the ban on the sport being played in the armed forces and “working to improve the recognition of players past and present.”

RL Cares Chief Executive Chris Rostron said: “It was wonderful to be able to host so many people who get behind the work of the charity at such a prestigious and historic location. 

“We would like to thank Sir Lindsay for his support and his continued commitment to the work we do as a world class charity that is all about the sport’s people and its communities. 

“While we are here for players when they’re in crisis, our number one aim is to help all players thrive and flourish because flourishing people and flourishing communities create a flourishing sport.” 

The reception provided an opportunity for RL Cares to outline the many ways in which empowers people in rugby league communities to thrive.

RL Cares Head of Community Emma Goldsmith delivered a powerful presentation about the successful impact of Movember Ahead of the Game, which has so far been delivered to almost 30,000 young people, their parents, carers and coaches. 

Emma spoke of the important role rugby league clubs have at the heart of their communities, and how Ahead of the Game is empowering the different generations within those communities to talk to each other about their mental wellbeing.

“Ahead of the Game shows young people how they can manage their own mental fitness and how they can be there for each other when it really matters, both on the field and off it,” explained Goldsmith. 

“Ahead of the Game workshops teaches participants how to have the skills and confidence to talk to each other about things that really matter; how to spot signs and symptoms that a friend might be struggling; and the importance of resilience.”

Movember Ahead of the Game is delivered by RL Cares’s highly-skilled team of former professional rugby league players, including Keith Senior, Gareth Ellis, Damian Gibson and Bob Beswick, who revealed details of how the programme had changed his own life for the better. 

Movember’s Global Director of Health Promotion Sarah Coghlan described the organisation’s partnership with RL Cares as “world class” because of the way in which Ahead of the Game underlined the need for community-based interventions. 

“This partnership enables us to get in front of young boys who are struggling with their identity, who may be wondering what they need to do to become a ‘good man’,” said Coghlan. 

“The work RL Cares does is helping to give young people the language and the skills to tackle their emotional challenges, their vulnerabilities and, frankly, to get through life.” 

The reception was also attended by representatives of Wigan Warriors and Penrith Panthers ahead of the World Club Challenge, won by Wigan just a few days later.

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 495 (April 2024)

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