Lurgan favourites ,Nick Timoney and James Hume.
Lurgan RFCC has been shortlisted in the Community Club Award category for SONI (Electricity System Operator for Northern Ireland) and Ulster Rugby’s Real Rugby Heroes - Game Changers’ bursary fund.
The fund is intended to reward the efforts of clubs and volunteers throughout Ulster who have embodied the spirit of community rugby by keeping their players and the community engaged throughout the pandemic, from championing health and wellbeing to keeping kids and families connected to the game off the pitch.
The bursary is an extension of the SONI Real Rugby Heroes initiative which has sought to reward volunteers for their invaluable contribution to the domestic game in Ulster for over five years. Last year SONI repurposed the programme to offer over 20 bursaries to clubs that switched their focus to supporting the community around them during the initial stages of the pandemic.
Submissions for the three categories so far have been outstanding. At the start of the first lock down, for example, Lurgan RFCC swung into action to support the elderly and more vulnerable members in their community. This quickly turned into a much larger endeavour supporting families and individuals in need across the wider Lurgan district and within three weeks, the club had formed a Lurgan community aid group in collaboration with local GAA Clubs.
Lurgan RFCC members delivered regular food and household staples to over 130 vulnerable people and organised phone calls with elderly members of the community. They even managed to get the Lurgan Tigers Ambassador, Jacob Stockdale, on board to drop off a few food parcels.
A total fund of £3,000 is available; tiered in three bursary levels of £1,000 each for the following categories:
Category 1– Real Rugby Heroes. Game Changer - Community Club Award.
Category 2 – Real Rugby Heroes. Game Changer - Keeping the Kids Involved.
Category 3 – Real Rugby Heroes. Game Changer - Health and Wellbeing Award.
Alan Campbell, Managing Director of SONI, said: "We’ve been inundated with worthy submissions for our Real Rugby Heroes - Game Changers bursary programme.
"This is a real testament to the positive impact that Ulster Rugby’s clubs have been making in the community during these most challenging of times, and we are very much looking forward to seeing who the public will select as finalists."
The much-needed funds are intended to support clubs with the anticipated expenses of a post-pandemic return to activity.
Barry Willis, Rugby Operations Manager at Ulster Rugby said: "We have had a tremendous response to the Real Rugby Heroes - Game Changers bursary programme. From delivering food parcels, to arranging Zoom workouts, our clubs have been actively supporting their communities and keeping people across Northern Ireland connected during the pandemic. We’re excited to see which of the clubs shortlisted will be chosen as finalists."