I’ve looked after Yatton RFCs website for several years, and whilst still coaching was also junior chairman 2014 – 2016. Four seasons ago, I received an email addressed to me in both of those capacities from a very earnest sounding young man named George Haynes. He wanted to know if we had a colts team, as although he didn’t live in the area he visited it often, and he wanted to get back into playing rugby following some time out through injury. I put George in touch with then colts coach Mike Patch, and after playing with the colts George soon integrated into the 2nd / 3rd XVs as a senior player in the following seasons, during which we became good friends. A mutual friend and teammate once warned me not to stand by George at a bar, as he’d “…bankrupt himself buying you drinks because he’s such a nice bloke.”
Fast forward to the present, and a recent request from George and a mutual friend on social media for support in doing the Macmillan Cancer Research “Brave the Shave”. Unfortunately, George’s young partner Chloe is undergoing chemotherapy for Cancer at the tender age of 22, and George had decided he was going to “Brave the Shave” to raise money for Macmillan. I and several mutual friends and teammates didn’t hesitate to join in, and on Dec 16th 2016 following Yatton RFC’s home games for the day, we all had our heads shaved for charity. We raised several hundred pounds with our individual pages and “shaking the collection tin” on the day and I am humbled by everyone’s generosity.
Besides George being a thoroughly decent human being and good friend for whom I’m happy to do what I can to help, for most of 2017 my stepdad had been fighting terminal stomach cancer. That was another powerful motivating factor to join in. Although a step-parent, and the fact that I was an adult when he and my mother got together nearly 25 years ago, he was an important part of mine and my family’s life. My children cherished him as a granddad and the feeling was mutual for him. It was Bill that brought my son Adam and my wife home from the hospital following Adam’s birth.
Sadly, Bill lost his fight against cancer on Christmas day 2017, but I know that to help a friend and stand up for my own family I made an effort. On one of my last visits shortly before he died, just after the headshave, he reached up and rubbed the stubble on my head and smiled (all he could manage at the time) – he knew I’d stood up to be counted. I warmly encourage ALL of my family and friends to make a similar effort…honestly, EVERY little helps! From dropping your spare change in a collecting tin through to having your head shaved in front of your rugby club mates, everything chips away at the coalface of fighting this dreadful disease. When you have the opportunity to help, please do so.