Ospreys players turned their hands to a wide range of projects to help their local communities on Wednesday when they teamed up with Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Services (NPTCVS).
The whole squad spent the afternoon participating in a variety of practical activities designed to support the important work of different voluntary organisations, charities and community groups throughout the Neath Port Talbot area, with the aim of highlighting how positive and rewarding volunteering can be, both to the individual and the community.
12 teams of players visited a wide range of local destinations to work on projects and with organisations as diverse as Bryncoch Environment Group (Kahn Fotuali'i, Justin Tipuric, Ryan Bevington and Ben John), Neath Food Bank (George Stowers and Nathan Edwards), Glynneath Training Centre Café (Joe Rees and Ross Jones) and allotments (Dan Biggar, Jonathan Spratt and Tom Grabham), Age Concern NPT (Ryan Jones, Aaron Jarvis, and Andrew Bishop), Friends of the Earth (Jonathan Thomas, Ashley Beck and Matthew Morgan), Keep Wales Tidy (Adam Jones, Morgan Allen, Rhys Webb and Marc Thomas), PDSA Charity Shop (Ian Gough and Hanno Dirksen)and Dewis Housing (James King, Sam Lewis and Dan Baker) amongst others.
Andrew Hore, Chief Operations Officer at the Ospreys, explained how it was important for the players to be at the heart of their local community, saying:
“Once again this season we have enjoyed fantastic backing from the communities of Ospreylia and have been the best supported Welsh region. We are extremely grateful for that ongoing support and it’s absolutely vital that we don’t take that support for granted, we have to repay the community and this is a fantastic way to do that.
“This outlook is at the very heart of our ethos at the Ospreys, that we support the community and the community supports us. By getting involved with NPTCVS in this way, not only are we giving something back to the community that is offering us so much support, we are also highlighting the fantastic work that is being done in the community by local volunteers, day in day out.
“The entire first team squad has got stuck in, right across Neath Port Talbot, and will take away from the day some fantastic, humbling experiences that will live with them for a long time while hopefully giving some fantastic services some well deserved publicity.”
Gaynor Richards, Director of NPTCVS said:
“We are delighted the Ospreys are volunteering with us once again. The impact the players have on the people they come into contact with on days like this, cannot be underestimated. It also helps us to highlight the vital contribution volunteers make to our communities.
“Without them, many of the services provided and support available would not exist. We hope this will encourage others to volunteer and experience the many benefits it brings and if anyone wants further information, just contact us and we can support people in finding suitable opportunities that meet their needs.”
Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones visited Glantawe Riverside Centre in Pontardawe along with Ian Evans, Tom Smith and Lloyd Peers, which has recently been restored and renovated by Arena Pontardawe, a community-based social enterprise organisationwho have recognised the need for a fully accessible, multipurpose community venue in the area.
After the trio helped with environmental improvements to the Riverside Park, Jones said:
“We are extremely fortunate in our position as professional rugby players to be able to take part in events like this which are so rewarding for all of us in the squad. It’s important that wherever possible we use our profile to benefit the local community, and if we can make a difference while having real fun like we did today, then all the better.
“There is a serious side to the day, and that is the fantastic work that is being done by volunteers throughout the region every day, in all walks of life. If we can highlight these causes and possibly convince more people to become a volunteer then it will have been an extremely successful day.”
A spokesperson for Glynneath Training Centre said:
“Glynneath Training Centre are delighted to be involved in this initiative. It’s great to have the support of the Ospreys in the field of volunteering as volunteering is so important for individuals to gain both confidence and life skills that can help them gain employment.”
A spokesperson for Neath Food Bank said:
“Neath Food Bank are very grateful for the support that the Osprey players have given them today. The food bank, which opened in September 2011, relies solely on public donations of food or cash, has fed 2700 people including nearly 700 children and relies on support both from the local community and a dedicated team of volunteers.
“The involvement of the Ospreys with the food bank helps to raise awareness of the current plight of so many people.”
Finally, a spokesperson for Dewis said:
“Dewis is a registered charity working within the county of Neath and Port Talbot providing supported accommodation to young people aged between 16 and 25.
“We are currently undergoing an office refurbishment which includes redecorating a room within the office designated for use by the young people’s focus group. The commitment, time and effort given to this project by the Ospreys players is an inspiration to all.”