Leinster Rugby are pleased to announce details of the five official charities for the 2011/12 season: Action Breast Cancer, Barretstown, Bray Lakers, St. John Ambulance and Welcome Home…

In addition to the five official charities of Leinster Rugby, numerous other existing charities and community projects already benefit from the support of our players on a personal capacity.

Leinster Rugby will lend its support to the designated charities through themed events, complimentary tickets, support of fundraisers, provision of signed merchandise and by helping to raise awareness and support amongst Leinster supporters.

Leinster Coach Joe Schmidt said: “Everyone at Leinster Rugby recognises and understands the important element that social responsibility plays in our ongoing engagement with our supporters and the wider community.

“We are pleased to announce our five official charities for the coming season who will hopefully benefit from the association as much as the players undoubtedly do themselves.”

About Action Breast Cancer:

Action Breast Cancer, a programme of the Irish Cancer Society, is Ireland’s leading provider of breast cancer information and support. Each the programme reaches over 30,000 women who are concerned about breast health and breast cancer. The Irish Cancer Society strives to ensure that everyone affected by breast cancer receives the highest standards of treatment, support and care, and to improve the quality of life of people living with breast cancer.

The Society relies entirely on voluntary contributions from the public to fund our programmes of care, education and research.

Jim O’Malley, Corporate Partnerships Manager, Irish Cancer Society commented: “We are delighted to once again partner with Leinster Rugby. The enthusiastic and dedication of the players and supporters in raising funds has been fantastic. It is with thanks to them that we can continue to provide our life-saving work!”

About Barretstown:

It is a shocking and sad reality that in Ireland, every week, three children are diagnosed with cancer.  However, due to ever improving treatment processes, survival rates will have increased to an incredible 90% by the end of this decade. 

Barretstown is a Kildare-based camp uniquely designed for children who have been through a serious illness, primarily cancer, and their families. Barretstown works to assist in the cancer recovery process through a programme of activity based therapy. The children, from 7 to 17, come from Ireland and across Europe to take part in activities such as canoeing, high ropes, drama and arts and crafts. Excellent, unobtrusive medical supervision helps the children forget illness, and learn to have fun again. Through their achievements they regain confidence and self-esteem and their own inner strength. 

Founded by Hollywood actor Paul Newman in 1994 Barretstown is modelled on his renowned Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, USA.  It was his wish that all of the children and families come to Barretstown free of charge. Everything, including accommodation, food, medical assistance and round-trip airfares are provided at no cost to the family. Barretstown is supported by donations and the fundraising efforts of corporate supporters, individuals and community groups.

CEO of Barretstown, Dee Ahearn said: “We are delighted that Leinster Rugby has decided to support Barretstown this season. This summer we will pass the amazing milestone of welcoming 21,000 campers from Ireland and across Europe to Barretstown.  Childhood cancer affects so many families in Ireland each year, and through the support of organisations like Leinster Rugby, we can continue to welcome as many campers as possible each year.”

About Bray Lakers:

Bray Lakers was established in 1989 and is a Sport, Social and Recreation club for children and adults with special needs in Wicklow and South Dublin.  Their mission is to provide people with a primary diagnosis of an intellectual disability with the opportunity to improve physical fitness and increase co-ordination through year-round participation in a wide range of sporting, social and recreational activities. They aim to aid and improve their 397 members’ social skills through interaction with their peers as well as the wider community through the support and guidance of 124 volunteers and twelve staff. 

Bray Lakers Spokesperson Claire Brady stated: “Bray Lakers are delighted to be selected as one of Leinster Rugby’s charities and are honoured to be partnered with such a successful and prominent club. Being chosen further endorses Leinster Rugby’s support for Bray Lakers with Jamie Heaslip already being a Patron of our Club. The brand of Leinster Rugby is recognised throughout Europe in delivering quality programmes both on and off the field and for Bray Lakers to be associated with them will significantly heighten our profile especially our “Buy-a-Brick” Fundraising campaign.”

Having secured land from Wicklow County Council on which to build a permanent Centre, Bray Lakers are actively working on achieving their life long dream of constructing the first purpose built Sport and Recreation Centre specifically for people with disabilities in Ireland.  The design has been finalised and they are currently in the pre-planning stages. 

Funding for this building will be met through grants, donations and fundraising events mainly through their ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign on www.braylakers.ie

About St. John Ambulance:

The St. John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland has been a leader in first aid training and providing public first aid services for over 100 years. Our members are all unpaid volunteers dedicated to a simple vision – that everyone should have immediate access to first aid no matter where they at the onset of illness or injury.  Members of St John have provided assistance at major events in recent Irish history, such as the Easter Rising, the Civil War and the 1974 Dublin bombings.

In addition to these major events, St John has provided first aid cover at most major sports events particularly, of course, Leinster Rugby games.  A close relationship has developed with Leinster Rugby for the past decade, since the start of the inaugural Celtic League.

This partnership comes at a vital time in the St John history in Ireland, as PHECC (the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council) have raised the standard required for emergency responders at all levels. Such training takes significant time and is expensive, with over 120 hours advanced training, including hospital experience. So far, St John has had a phenomenal success rate in the PHECC National Qualifying examination. We also hope that this partnership will highlight the importance of first aid to the family, supporters and friends of Leinster Rugby.

Superintendent Kevin Burke of Foxrock Division – which has provided ambulance cover at all Leinster games in the RDS and in Donnybrook for the past ten years – says: “For the members of Foxrock Division – who provide the regular ambulance cover at Leinster games – the partnership with Leinster will help fund the up-skilling of our members to the high standard required by PHECC.  This will directly benefit Leinster’s players and supporters, and many others.  Following the Boys in Blue has never been safer!”

About Welcome Home:

Welcome Home is a registered charity which has been raising funds for Fr. Peter McVerry since 1990 to support his work with young homeless people in Dublin.  The charity raises money through a number of organised events throughout the year.

The Wexford Cycle was started in 1990, is the longest-running and biggest fundraising event organised by the charity.  The Wexford Cycle takes place every September.  The Welcome Home Golf Classic started in 1992 and is the second biggest event organised by the charity.  Both events are hugely popular and attract a regular core of supporters, both corporate and individual.

The Wexford Cycle has increased hugely in popularity over the last five years with an average of 380 cyclists taking part each year. Cyclists raise sponsorship money in support of Welcome Home.  The Golf Classic in May is always a great day of golf and a great social occasion with 40 teams participating and two hundred people attending the evening festivities.

Two other events were added to the Welcome Home calendar in 2008 – the Welcome Home Lunch and Welcome Home Midsummer Walk.  The Midsummer Walk takes place in June while the Welcome Home Lunch takes place every second year in March. 

Information and dates regarding all our events are contained on our website www.welcomehome.ie  

The charity also receives numerous donations, both individual and corporate, and many of them online via our website.

David Cowhey, Secretary, commented:  “Welcome Home charity is delighted to be chosen again as one of Leinster Rugby’s official charities.  This is a great boost to everyone concerned with Welcome Home’s fundraising activities.  Welcome Home raises money to support the work of Fr. Peter McVerry with young homeless people in Dublin.

The generous support of Leinster Rugby over the last few years has been very beneficial for the charity in terms of money raised and also in terms of increased awareness. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leinster Rugby for their continued support and hope that the coming season in 2011/12 will be every bit as successful as last season.”