Ex-England hero Lee Mears proud to fundraise for rugby charity Wooden Spoon

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Lee Mears won 42 caps for England at hooker but is now turning his hand to rugby related fundraising
Lee Mears won 42 caps for England at hooker but is now turning his hand to rugby related fundraising

Bath great Lee Mears expressed his pride in raising money for a charity that represents the values of rugby, writes Tum Balogun.

The 43-year-old joined the final stages of the charity bike ride alongside a host of former Gallagher Premiership and international stars, The Road to Twickenham, which raised money for children’s charity Wooden Spoon.

Gallagher’s Road to Twickenham campaign built upon the Wooden Spoon’s core values of Passion, Integrity, Teamwork and Fun, while aiming to raise as much money as possible in just seven days.

Wooden Spoon aim is that every penny that their volunteers raise is spent on life-changing projects in their local communities.

In the last year, despite the difficult conditions, they funded 43 charitable projects supporting 100,000 vulnerable children and young people. However, more vulnerable children need their help, now more than ever.

Mears, who made 42 appearances for England, believes the organisation perfectly illustrates the ethos of the game.

He said: “I’m a massive fan, I’m an ambassador and it’s a wonderful charity.

“If you’ve ever had the chance or get the chance to see what [they] do, the sensory booths, the school areas - the way they bring the values of rugby through to children I think it’s one of the best charities for that.”

With the help of the rugby family, Wooden Spoon funds life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people.

Mears added: “It sits in the rugby ethos, the way every region raises money for their area that for me is amazing.

“Because that’s what rugby is about, having good fun, raising money, and doing good for others.

“I think it ticks all the boxes.”

The inaugural event, supported by Gallagher, took a core group of riders on a gruelling 750-mile trek in seven days, stopping at several Premiership Rugby grounds along the way.

Led by former Scottish international Nathan Hines, the group included the likes of Jonny Arr, Will Hurrell, Jack Clifford, and Charlie Sharples.

The Peloton of core riders arrive at Twickenham Stadium as they come to the finish of the Road to Twickenham Cycle Ride in association with Gallagher
The Peloton of core riders arrive at Twickenham Stadium as they come to the finish of to the Road to Twickenham Cycle Ride in association with Gallagher

As well as Rio 2016 Paralympic cyclist, Louis Rolfe and former Quin, Ugo Monye, who joined their ranks on the final leg of the journey in Newbury.

The former hooker shared how, upon joining the ride part way through, the responsibility for keeping spirits high fell on his broad shoulders.

He said: “We always love the fact as rugby boys, you’ve got the energy bringers and the sappers.

“So, when I walked in, they had just come back from 124 miles, everyone was down, moaning so you’re trying to pick everybody up.

“It's definitely a combination of personalities, and that’s what we love - that’s why rugby is good.”

Mears, who was forced to retire from top-flight rugby in 2013 due to a heart condition, has since turned his attention to coaching, and the hooker admitted his rugby pedigree did not fully equip him for the challenge.

“There're certain parts of my anatomy that I don't think are used to cycling," added Mears.

“So, there's a bit of pain in there.

“And then I think there’s some old shoulder injuries from the rugby days but generally for me it's going through it with the stop and start, stop, and start.

“If you ask some of the others, I never shut up, so I think I was making ears bleed by the end.”

Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby. With the help of you, the rugby family, we fund life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people. Text WOODENSPOON 10 to 70085 to donate £10 or visit JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gallaghersbikeride and woodenspoon.org.uk to find out more.

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