My background is teaching. I taught for 40 years, 29 of which were at Beamont (William Beamont) High School. I decided to retire in August 2019 and have a change of life!! Throughout my time at Beamont I was a member of the Leadership team as well as teaching ICT. I knew of the Warrington Wolves Foundation as the school held the rugby scholarship there many years ago and also had the players training, with a base at the school whilst the HJ was being built. James Howes and Neil Kelly have been around the school for a long time. Matty Blythe was a member of that scholarship squad and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch him grow up and develop into such an inspirational guy as well as a professional rugby player. Likewise, I also taught Danny Walker, who is such an energetic and exciting young player. During the scholarship years, I supported the squad during visits to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as well as parading the Challenge Cup during half-time.
I bumped into James and Neil one day in school before I retired and mentioned that I was doing so and asked if there was anything I could do to support the Foundation…. the rest, as they say, is history!
I have volunteered as a Game Changer as I wanted to continue to work with groups of people and to be able to utilise my skill set to help others. I was invited to a ‘Primrose and Brew’ session at the HJ Community Café last October to meet with other Game Changers. I could not believe my ears as I heard details of all the projects that are offered by the Foundation. I clearly knew of the links through sport in school but was not aware of the extensive program that is on offer to the whole of the Warrington community.
Initially, I was asked to support the work that James does with the Active Ageing project. Part of this project involves raising awareness of people living with dementia and to make the HJ a dementia-friendly stadium. So I went on a couple of courses to upskill myself and get familiar with what would be needed. I became a Dementia Friend, so I can provide awareness-raising sessions for others and I linked with the Supporting Memories national project so we could develop our ‘In the Sheds’ sessions at the HJ. I have organised sessions for some HJ staff and Game Changers to understand the needs of people living with dementia and audited the stadium, making suggestions on how the stadium needs to develop to become dementia-friendly.
Another project I have been involved with is called ‘Supporter to Reporter (S2R). This is a relaunch/refresher of a project that has been around for a while. I have linked with a group of Beamont Year 10 students and an English teacher to develop a media that develop student literacy skills. This has been an exciting project for the students and has involved them in reporting on matches, visiting the press room and SKY truck, producing a video, and experiencing the press area on match day. One of their match reports was published in the matchday programme. The students have interviewed players and produced audio and written reports. The project is to be accredited by the AQA exam board. Some of the students had never been to the stadium or a rugby match and they are now hooked! We have ideas on how to develop this project further in the future.
During the recent quarantine, I have assisted with the organisation of past match day programmes for the stadium’s heritage room. It’s given me a focus and utilised my skills on a wet and windy day.
In the past 10 months, I have learned so much about the work of the Foundation and how it supports the wider community. As a Leeds lass(!) who supports Wire, I have always appreciated the great family that RL is through the sport. However, I was not aware of how much this great sport touches the heart of so many people who do not necessarily attend the games. I hadn’t realised how the Warrington Wolves and the Wolves Foundation are two separate entities or the size of the volunteer group that works endlessly to ensure the success of game day.
I have met so many lovely, caring and positive people who give so much for others and who do it without the need for personal recognition. I have also had the experience of meeting up with other ex-Beamont students that I taught, who work at the stadium. The Wolves Foundation and Game Changers are a fab-u-lous team of people! Thanks to all for the opportunity to be part of the team.