Members of the farming community in the Berwick-upon-Tweed area, together with agricultural merchant McCreath Simpson & Prentice (MSP), have helped to raise more than £20,000 for Berwick Rugby Club through a successful grain donation initiative.
The Rugby Club, which hosts lunches on matchdays alongside other functions including birthday parties and wedding receptions, saw its revenue streams cut off overnight as COVID-19 gripped the country back in March, with fixtures and functions cancelled and that still being the case more than seven months on.
Explaining how the initiative came about, Neil Armstrong, Berwick Rugby Club Chairman of Sponsorship and local farmer, said: “Ahead of harvest, we had a brainwave to approach the local farming fraternity to generate some much-needed cash as we knew we wouldn’t be taking any function bookings or hosting any matches for the foreseeable future.
“We put some letters together asking for a donation of a bucket of grain and were overwhelmed by the generosity from the local farming community, collecting wheat from 70 farms within a 12 to 15-mile radius of the club – with some donating two to three tonnes.
“With our main shirt sponsor MSP onboard, assisting with the storage and selling of the grain, it is anticipated that this will generate in excess of £20,000 – an absolutely fantastic amount that will probably carry the club forward for a year without any functions.”
A total of 103 tonnes of wheat was collected from the 70 farms, which MSP – the current main shirt sponsor of Berwick Rugby Club – topped up to 115 tonnes and then marketed and sold as part of its committed tonnage into Coastal Grains.
Antony Spooner, President of Berwick Rugby Club, added: “As a community club, we’re very much missing that matchday buzz in our clubhouse, where people come to enjoy our hospitality and facilities in what is an important revenue stream for us.
Great day collecting wheat donated to @berwickrugby by local farmers. 101.3 tons delivered to @CoastalGrains. Many thanks to all donors will be greatly appreciated by the club this season. Well organised @thorntonmains pic.twitter.com/ATftRQS8qs
— Elliot Gray (@Elliott_DG) October 8, 2020
“We’re incredibly thankful to the local farming community and, in particular, the six local farmers who spent a full day collecting the wheat from all of the farms in their own tractors and trailers. The farmers’ support has ensured that same matchday buzz and hospitality can be enjoyed once these challenging times are over and things are back to normal.”
Claire Strachan, Grain Trader at McCreath Simpson & Prentice, added: “When we heard about this initiative, we were only too happy to support Berwick Rugby Club, who we have sponsored for a number of years now.
“We hope that the money raised through the grain donation will go a significant way towards ensuring that the Rugby Club will remain the excellent community hub that it is long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over and their lunches and functions are able to be hosted once again.”