Two English rugby legends will be team captains at the first Frontline services vs veterans charity rugby match taking place this Sunday at the Richmond Athletic Ground.
The match will see former Leicester Tigers player Tim Stimpson captain of the London Ambulance Service (LAS) team as they take on a squad made up of members of the Veterans Charity, Battalion of Pals, skippered by former Wasps player Paul Sampson.
The event, hosted by Pals, is held in memory of Grenadier Guard Elliot Hennell who tragically committed suicide in 2020, and with the participation of charities, will aim to raise awareness and support men’s mental health topics and PTSD.
Tim Stimpson said: “It’s nice to be part of these ambitions that help people far worse than us, who have sacrificed far more than us.
“Whether it’s the military or first responders, whether it’s men, women; rugby players, amateurs or professionals.
“If, as a former rugby player, I can introduce myself [to the match] and thanking people and telling stories, so maybe that will resonate with someone who is feeling a little bit down right now.
“We all go through good and bad mental health, we all have good times, we all have tough times and we all want to be there for each other.
“It’s about showing that you care, because you can.”
All money raised will be donated to the NHS, LAS, Pals Battalion and the charity Let go who are working to end the mental health stigma in rugby and want to see a mental health representative installed in every rugby club.
The charity day will start at 1:30 p.m. with a mixed-capacity match between Surrey Chargers and Berkshire Brigands and will be followed by the Pals vs LAS game at 2:30 p.m. which will see veterans, frontline workers and several former and current professionals take to the pitch.
Stimpson added, “You judge a company by how it treats its vulnerable people, how it treats the elderly and how it treats its key workers, and I hope COVID has led to this awareness that maybe be that we are hurting our value system.
“Maybe we give too much respect to people with status rather than people who have a valuable role to play in society.”
“The right people have to come together to try to make a difference… we have a moral obligation to take care of people. ”
More than 160,000 veterans in the UK have developed some form of PTSD, with ambulance workers five times more likely to develop the disease than soldiers returning from active duty.
Almost half of all intensive care staff report suffering from symptoms of PTSD, anxiety or depression.
Event organizer Julian Oliver said the event is a great opportunity to bring together an ecosystem of charities, players and supporters who can start to make a real difference in the mental health support available. and the effect it has on people’s lives.
Oliver remarked: “The conversations are starting to take place. We have generations to come who have compassion as the default setting, rather than in our age group where it’s a little weird and awkward.
“We are injecting compassion into an arena that has struggled tremendously, and so there are a lot of lost men out there.
“Let’s pay homage to Eliot Hennel, get his family down and show he’s taken care of, and put as many veterans and frontline responders in one place as possible under the common umbrella of helping each other, drink beer, and watch rugby.
The games will be followed by a charity dinner attended by the Deputy Mayor of Richmond, at which Stimpson will speak.
If you would like to donate, search @LASversusPALs on Facebook which will have a donate button available, or contact @LooseHeadz on Twitter.
Tickets for the match cost £ 10 for over 16s and are available at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/frontline-services-vs-veterans-xv-tickets-163836654845.