Lord Mayor, Councillor Olwen Foggin, hosted a celebration event at Exeter’s historic Guildhall on Wednesday evening (25 November), to acknowledge the huge effort that the Exeter Fanzone volunteers had made during Rugby World Cup 2015.
Three matches were played at Sandy Park during the tournament with the help of nearly 300 volunteers from across the region, but the celebration focussed on thanking the team of 28 volunteers who were based in the Fanzone in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens. During the tournament they gave 984 hours of their own time for free and travelled over 8,500 miles to get to their shifts. The average number of shifts was six, although some people worked up to 11 of the 13 days that the Fanzone was open.
The Lord Mayor said: “I would like to convey my congratulations and appreciation, on behalf of the Citizens of Exeter, for all those who took part in making Rugby World Cup in Exeter, the success it was. Without the volunteers the success of Rugby World Cup in Exeter wouldn’t have happened. You have all done Exeter proud.”
Tony Rowe, OBE, Chief Executive and Chair of Exeter Rugby Club, attended the event to show his gratitude for the work of The Pack, and brought with him three England players from Exeter Chiefs: Henry Slade, Jack Nowell and Geoff Parling, to greet the volunteers.
Tony said: “It was an enormous pleasure to be involved with staging the Rugby World Cup Games in Exeter and I was impressed with the enthusiasm and helpfulness of our volunteers. They added that friendly personal touch that set Exeter apart from the other Rugby World Cup venues; they all need to be congratulated.”
The evening began with an informal meet and greet followed by a thank you speech from the Lord Mayor who then presented a number of awards in recognition of the commitment of the team, including the ‘Volunteer of the Year’. This award included a prize of a night’s bed and breakfast accommodation kindly donated by Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club, one of the Team Bases during the tournament.
Kay Scoble, from Plymouth, received this award for her outstanding dedication to Rugby World Cup. Kay worked 11 shifts, totalling almost 90 hours, travelled nearly a thousand miles by train, baked many cakes for the rest of the team, and went on stage to encourage the 4,000-crowd to sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot at one of the England matches being televised in the Fanzone.
Councillor Rosie Denham, Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, said: “The whole team were consistently amazing, all the way through the tournament. They were engaging, enthusiastic, friendly and welcoming, helping to provide the great first impression that our visitors received in the city and in the Fanzone.
“The volunteers carried out varied tasks including setting up the huge inflatables we had on site each day, parading with hundreds of school children at the Five Nations Parade, making Halloween masks, and dressing up as Minions for the fancy dress final! They all enjoyed working together and I am proud of them for everything they have achieved, not just for the city but for themselves too. I hope many of the volunteers will feel confident to continue volunteering for local organisations and sports clubs, as they all have the skills to be an asset to any team.”
The evening was concluded with a networking session amongst the volunteers and representatives of local rugby clubs, Active Devon and Join In UK as part of the RWC 2015 Legacy Programme to increase volunteering in local clubs and organisations.
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