Richmond: Heroes of Afghanistan, the ambulance service and the NHS celebrated in charity rugby match

  Posted: 07.09.21 at 10:23 by Rory Poulter

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Richmond Rugby Club is hosting an inaugural ‘Frontline Services versus Veterans’ charity match this Sunday the 12th, which is part of a wider effort to help those struggling with mental health issues, including soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

The teams will be captained by former England players Tim Stimpson, formerly of Leicester Tigers, and Paul Sampson, of Wasps and London Welsh.

The event on Sunday will be raising funds for the NHS and London Ambulance Service as well the charities LooseHeadz, which campaigns to raise the profile of mental health issues, and the Pals Battalion, which is a veterans organisation.

The game was established by the Pals Battalion and is dedicated to the memory of Grenadier Guard Elliot Hennell, who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sadly took his life in 2020.

Elliot was a stalwart member of Battersea Ironsides Rugby club for many years and as a soldier served in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq, as well as completing three tours of Afghanistan, where he was involved in combat with the Taliban and witnessed the death brothers in arms.

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK accounting for 18 deaths per day. Elliot was just one of the 186,000 veterans in the UK who developed PTSD through serving their country.

Elliot Hennell with England rugby coach, Eddie Jones. Credit: Battersea Ironsides.

It is reported that ambulance staff are five times more likely to develop PTSD than soldiers returning, from duty whilst nearly half of all intensive care staff report PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression.

The rugby fraternity is at the forefront of efforts to encourage people to talk about mental health issues by providing a safe space to talk without feeling any stigma.

A spokesman for the event said: “The match will be raising funds for the NHS, LAS, Looseheadz and PALS and is an opportunity to thank those that selflessly keep our communities safe whilst enjoying the game we love.”

A curtain raiser match, which kicks off at 1.30pm, will feature the Surrey Chargers against the Berkshire Brigands, which as teams of mixed ability rugby players with and without learning disabilities, autism or other barriers.

The main match starts at Richmond Athletic Ground at 2.30pm. Ticket prices are £10 for adults while entry for under 16s is free.

Elliot Hennell. Credit: Grenadier Guards

Tickets are available here

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