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RFL Launch Player Benevolent Fund
Posted by southstander on January 10 2005 - 12:58:17

Excellent MC
On saturday night I had the honour of attending the first Rugby League Presidents Dinner, a black tie occasion held at the Queens Hotel in Leeds and MC'd by the RFL President himself, our very own Gary Hetherington.

The evening was a charity event, organised to launch a 'Players Benevolent Fund' which will initially benefit Danny Scott and Matt King.

It was a great evening, attended by most of the club owners and 'movers and shakers' of our great game, and they all dug deep for a very worthy cause.

I was delighted to be asked to attend the event (and I'm going to name drop here) by Richard Lewis. I attended on Mr Lewis's table, which caused comedy moment of the night when Gary Hetherington 'clocked me' and asked 'What are you doing here?'. To which I replied, I'm here as a guest of Richard Lewis. After Gary had picked his jaw up off the ground - he was stuck words! A speechless Hetherington - now there's a first!

There were around 350 in attendance, including many well know faces from within the game. Nineteen clubs took tables, with the only Superleague exceptions being Saints, Wigan and Bradford, who obviously felt that it was not necessary to support a players benevolent fund.

A superb dinner, a cut above the usual mass produced fare, was consumed while we were serenaded by an excellent Frank Sinatra tribute. And then followed an amazing auction. Six 'tasty' items, which it quickly became evident were way out of the reach of my meager finances, went for a total around £15,000. With bidding wars breaking out between various clubs. The MC, Mr Hetherington, could not understand why the Wakefield contingent were reticent about bidding! Telling them that the 'cheque is in the post'.

A raffle (at a fiver a ticket) raised several thousand more, and a generous individual contribution made the total raised to launch the fund up to a terrific £25,000. Danny, who was present with his family, and Matt (whose parents were in attendance) must have been delighted with the generosity across the board.

An after dinner speech by the amazing Billy Thompson (ex-referee) and a 1960's disco ended off a fantastic night, and one which will undoubtedly be repeated next year. Congratulation to Gary Hetherington, and to the RFL, for organising a fantastic night which raised a great amount of money for a brilliant cause.

I, for one, would be honoured to be invited back next year, if only to see Gary's face once again!

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