The Prime Minister has hosted a reception at Downing Street to celebrate the contribution of the Heroes Rugby Challenge a charity drive to raise money for Help for Heroes who support wounded servicemen and women. The charity drive will culminate in a rugby game this coming Saturday (3rd Dec 2011), at Twickenham Stadium, featuring a Northern Hemisphere team vs a Southern Hemisphere team.
Read the Prime Minister’s speech:
“Good evening everyone. Come on through. Calling the northern hemisphere - come on, we need you in here. I don’t think we’ve ever had both hemispheres in this room. But anyway, first of all, a very, very warm welcome to Number 10, Downing Street. It’s a real pleasure to have you here tonight and to meet so many incredible rugby players and so many people who do so much for our armed forces.
So, first of all, a very warm welcome. Can I apologise for the peeling wallpaper? I am afraid that’s part of the cuts. I am afraid - nothing we can do about that. Obviously I have come straight from Prime Minister’s Questions, which is the closest I get to a contact sport. The speaker doesn’t yet say, ‘Pause, touch and engage’, but I think it’s not long before that probably starts happening. But genuinely, I want to congratulate all of you for taking part in this, because first of all, I want to say something about Help for Heroes. I have seen at first hand what this incredible charity does. We have brave service men and women serving in Afghanistan, people who served in Iraq, people who served all over the world, and we owe them, as a country, a debt of gratitude for their service and for what they have done on behalf of our country.
I am committed to make sure the government does everything it can to look after our veterans, to treat them properly as a country. But frankly, this isn’t just a government responsibility; it’s a responsibility for all of society, and I think that Help for Heroes has been a brilliant example of society rising up and saying, ‘We want to do more for these people’. I will never forget going to Headley Court, where so many people come back with terrible injuries from Afghanistan. They get the most incredible help and treatment, and at Headley Court is this extraordinary Help for Heroes swimming pool with all the most modern equipment and devices to help give people that real recuperation and rehabilitation that they need.
Help for Heroes has been a brilliant charity over these last few years. I want to congratulate everyone involved for the money that you’ve raised, the time that you’ve put in, and also the way you’ve inspired so many people in our country to do more. You’ve also been incredibly inventive and creative. I have lost count of the schemes and ideas that Bryn and Emma have come up with to try and get people to raise money and to do things for our Armed Services, and this rugby match is just one of those ideas. As I understand it, the last time you did this, you raised over £1.5 million, and you want to raise a lot of money on Saturday as well.
So, the first thing is a very big congratulations to Help for Heroes, for who you are and what you do. I am really, really grateful. The second thing is to say thank you to all those involved in rugby union who are coming together to make this possible. You’re incredibly busy people; you play for all sorts of different clubs and all sorts of different countries. I gather we’ve even got an All Black flying in straight from New Zealand to come and take part on Saturday. We’ve got people from all sorts of countries and teams, so thank you, because sport has an incredible, iconic value in our world and in our country, and when people see what you’re doing, giving your time for free, giving all your effort, and I know how much effort you put in to these rugby games, to raise money for such a good cause - a huge thank you on behalf of everyone in Britain for what you’re doing.
Finally, I just want to thank the other organisers. Something like this takes a vast amount of organisation and a lot of people giving of their time. I think it’s a really noble cause, because it’s for people who need our help. It shows that as a country, we care about those who serve on our behalf, and I think it’s great for rugby, because it shows that you believe in using the power of your sport and the great role models that you all are, to say to the country, to say to the world: this is a really worthwhile cause, and we are with you - we are behind you. You are going to give a lot of people a lot of pleasure on Saturday. I hope it’s good northern hemisphere weather, so plenty of rain and cloud to encourage some of the players in my country who have had a difficult time recently, but we won’t go into that because Sky News is here. There’s no - I won’t say that. That would get me in trouble. Anyway, enough from me. A warm welcome. Enjoy yourself here in Number 10, Downing Street tonight. A big thank you for what you are doing. Now, over to the main meal. Thank you very much indeed.”
External site: Heroes Rugby Challenge