A busy few weeks: schools visited, funds raised and most importantly, Huw remembered
I write this update listening to a radio debate about the British Lions side that will take the field against Australia on 22nd June. I imagine the discussion with Huw about the 15 Welsh players in the squad and his happy recollections of meeting the Welsh rugby squad in 2010. It was the one sport I knew as much about as Huw – when it came to anything else he knew more of the players, clubs and results. Here is a page from a Wales match programme Huw had signed by the players in 2010.
I was also imagining Huw sitting with the lads and being the life and soul of the party when I was at the Hepworth 17 year olds ‘end of season’ night recently. Huw would have been in the thick of it with the other lads – enjoying the curry and the company alike. It was actually the ‘end of an era’ night as Huw’s team mates move on to open age football next season with different clubs. It was good to see everyone, and it was both lovely and entirely appropriate to see the first page of the review booklet given to each of the players dedicated to Hepworth’s number 2. The page read like this:
Although this booklet records the highs of Hepworth United we will never forget the tragic loss of Huw Thatcher. Huw’s contribution and commitment to the team was immense and the number 2 shirt will always be Huw’s.
The page had 3 lovely photos of Huw, including this one of him from early 2011. It was nice to think back to happy Saturday mornings going in convoy to places like Batley and Hartshead and later thinking about the Sunday mornings when Huw would be loving playing with his mates and putting in great performances in the middle of the defence. Most of all he would be enjoying the banter and the crack with team mates, coaches and parents alike – smiling most of the time and enjoying the highlight of his week. They were special days, and the recent end of season night was special in some ways – and of course hollow in others. I must say however, it has been a privelidge to be involved with such a group of lads and their parents, and I always feel relaxed and welcome in their company.
Here is the first picture I have of Huw and the lads from a tournament they won as 7 year olds in 2002. The trophy that Huw holds proudly above his head, still sits in the cabinet in my front room – that is where it will stay with all the other trophies from football, cricket and tennis that he was so proud of over the years.
Huw has also been remembered with various fund raising efforts in the last month. The total funds raised has continued to rise and is now approaching £76,000. When I think about it, this amount is such big contribution, and I’ll have further updates soon about how the additional money is being used. Recent fund raising includes donations and a raffle from someone who I just know as ‘Neil from Northampton’! Neil is a friend of Holmfirth HGV driver Jason Brooke and Neil owns a road side cafe near Northampton. He chose to raise some funds for the Huw Trust and we’re grateful to him and his customers for raising over £150.
It was a pleasure to see Isaac, Joel and Ed recently too – to plan the Huw 5 a side football tournament which is taking place on Sunday 20th July this year. There is tremendous interest in it again this year – you can see details here if you’re interested in taking part or helping out and many thanks to the lads (and others) who are organising it.
It was also a great bonus this month to hear from both Upperthong and Wooldale Junior Schools – the pupils from each school had chosen the Huw Trust as their main charity this year and between them they raised well over £700. I visited each school and spoke to the young pupils who were so enthusiastic and keen to be involved – it was tremendous and uplifting to hear theme tell me what they had been doing. Their events included a Team Marathon, and various non uniform days – with all events taking a lot of effort from the pupils, parents and staff. It was moving to see these young enthusiastic children – just like Huw was 10 years ago – full of life and optimism for the future. It reminded me sharply of both how quickly time passes and how happy Huw was at Junior school as a younger boy.
Two things particularly struck me at the end of the visits – firstly how welcome I was made to feel at Wooldale school which wasn’t the school that Huw attended – so it was special that they had made the effort and it was great to see the younger brothers and sisters of Huw’s friends at Wooldale.
The second thing that struck me was the words of a song the children sung at Upperthong. It was incredibly moving and the lyrics included these words:
When I look up to the stars,
there’s a burning deep inside me
and I feel a power growing in my soul.
There is something I can sense,
deep within a dream to guide me,
and I know that I am reaching for my goal.
I can do anything at all,
I can climb the highest mountain,
I can feel the ocean calling wild and free.
I can be anything I want,
with this hope to drive me onward,
if I can just believe in me.
When the skies are dark and grey,
we still know the sun is shining:
though it’s out of sight, its light is glowing still.
And as long as I believe,
there is nothing I can’t wish for;
not a dream that I’m unable to fulfill.
And whatever it takes I’ll find it somehow;
whatever it needs I’ll show I’m strong.
Whatever it takes I’ll make it happen:
finding out where I belong.
While the world is spinning round,
I can sometimes lose direction
and I know how hard it is to find my way.
But with friends around to care,
there is nothing I can’t handle,
and I’ll face the future treasuring each day.
The words are a reminder of what might have been, but I know we all believed in Huw, what he could do, and now what he means. I do believe that anything is possible and I hope the young pupils at Upperthong and Wooldale continue to believe in their ambitions and talents as they grow up.