Ipswich YM Rugby Club dedicate new grant to former president

Ipswich YM Rgby Club have launched the Brian Williams Foundation Hardship Grant, to make the sport he loved accessible to all

Ipswich YM Rgby Club have launched the Brian Williams Foundation Hardship Grant, to make the sport he loved accessible to all. His widow, Wendy Williams (second right) attended the launch and opening of the 'Legends Bar.' L-R: Wendy's daughter, Bob Hullis, Wendy Williams and Katherine Stanes. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A new financial grant to enable young people of all backgrounds play rugby has been named after a former club president who had a passion for grassroots sport.

Ipswich YM Rugby Club, in Rushmere St Andrew, launched the Brian Williams Foundation Hardship Grant on Saturday, with the aim of removing any financial barriers that may prevent young people from joining the sport. 

“We want to support disadvantaged youngsters, so if they want to play the sport, they can, no matter what their ability or background,” explained Katherine Stanes, Chair of the Youth and Juniors Section.

The club was packed as members gathered to celebrate the grant, and the opening of the new Legends Bar.

The club was packed as members gathered to celebrate the grant, and the opening of the new Legends Bar. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Ipswich YM Rugby Club has been a popular hub in the community for many years.

Ipswich YM Rugby Club has been a popular hub in the community for many years. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The club particularly wants to encourage state-educated students to take part as they are less likely to have played rugby at school.

"At the YM, we welcome any child. It doesn’t matter whether rugby is on the curriculum at your school, we just want good sportsmen and women,” said Katherine.

She hopes that this grant will encourage friendships between young people of all walks of life.

The grant is named after a former president of the club, Brian Williams, who died in 2016. Brian was made the 100th president of the RFU [Rugby Football Union] in 2008/09, the governing body for rugby union in England. He was also president of the Ipswich YM RUFC and Eastern Counties Rugby Union.

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Brian's passion for local grassroots rugby for all has become enshrined in the club’s core values, and they are dedicating the grant to his memory. 

Brian’s widow, Wendy Williams, was in attendance on Saturday, and unveiled the brand new 'Legends Bar.'

Wendy Williams, Brian Williams' widow, was in attendance to celebrate the launch

Wendy Williams, Brian Williams' widow, was in attendance to celebrate the launch, and the grand opening of the new Legends Bar. Right: Bob Hullis, of Junior Fixtures. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Ipswich YM RUFC reveal their new legends bar and secure grant PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Rugby is fantastic for young people's confidence, discipline and teamwork says Katherine Stanes, 'Rugby mum' and Chair of Youth and Juniors Section. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Rugby, she said, was Brian’s “lifeline.” 

“Brian did a lot in this area, and outside it, too, as he was on the committee of the RFU.  

“When he first went to the YM, they were in a little wooden hut. Later on, that building was virtually condemned, and the YM built a big building. Brian and the men who worked for him would go down and decorate it.” 

Brian was involved in all aspects of the club, said Wendy, from painting lines to cutting the grass. 

“He won the Lifetime Achievement Award from Suffolk County Council in 2012, and the Active Waveney Lifetime Achievement Award in the same year. He travelled the world with rugby.” 

Wendy is pleased that this new grant will open up rugby to a whole new swathe of young people. 

“Rugby is a family," Wendy explained. "Everybody gets to know each other, and there are wonderful friendships formed. You can always fit in somewhere and find a friend. It's a sport like no other.”