Audiologist hears cry and donates funds to help secure future of rugby club

Photo shows: Andy Bird, owner of Andrew Bird Hearing Ltd, with Spartans chairman Kevin Dunn at the gate of Spartans RFC.
Andy & Kevin at Spartans

A business owner is repaying a favour by financially helping a cash-strapped club that nurtured his own love of rugby.

Andy Bird, audiologist and owner of Andrew Bird Hearing in Cheltenham, has donated £1,000 to Spartans RFC after Covid-19 took its toll on the community club.

The Gloucester-based rugby club is suffering from hard times after it was forced to close, which meant losing its regular income for more than four months.

Former first team scrum half Andy stepped forward to offer the cash boost after seeing the club was asking for donations through an online Go Fund Me page.

Andy Bird Spartans team photoHe has first-hand experience of how the club benefits Kingsholm; one of the city’s most deprived wards. He joined Spartans at the age of 11 with the club helping to fund his membership and kit.

Andy said: “They really looked after me as a kid. They gave me the opportunity to play rugby which I wouldn’t otherwise have had and they supported me when things weren’t easy.

“It’s my club and always will be. I want to show my appreciation for everything they did for me, as well as all the other youth players they help out.

“The club is at the heart of the community and I don’t want to see this change. I want the club to continue to go from strength to strength.”

Andy is ploughing further funds into the club by offering a commission-based incentive.  The club can earn five per cent on anyone they recommend for a hearing test or ear wax removal. Players, as well as their friends and families, are being urged to ‘get their hearing checked while supporting the club.’

More than £3,000 has now been raised through the Spartans Go Fund Me page, which was set up ‘to help continue to provide a welcoming space for customers, players and patrons.’

Neil Brinkworth, Commercial & Sponsorship Manager at Spartans, said: “Spartans is a club with traditional values and the emotional feeling of being a ‘Spartan’ stays with people long after their playing days have finished.

“Andy epitomises what it means to be a Spartan. He played through all youth age groups before progressing to become an accomplished scrum half with the first team for many years.

“The Covid­-19 crisis has really hit Spartans hard, with no rugby being played and the clubhouse being closed since March, our financial situation has been severely affected.

“The donation given by Andrew Bird Hearing Ltd to the club has provided a massive boost at a time when it could not be more needed.”

Spartans chairman Kevin Dunn added his thanks, saying: “We are all very proud of Andy’s achievements, both on and off of the rugby field, and are very glad that Andy will always be a Spartan at heart.”

Spartans RFC was formed in 1927 making it one of the oldest rugby clubs in Gloucester. It currently has six youth teams, ranging from the under sevens to under 13s.

Over the years the club has developed many players, such as Phil Greening, who represented England as a hooker, and Dan Norton, who represents England’s 7s team and is the current world record holder for tries scored.

Neil added: “We have very strong links to the people in the area. This is best demonstrated by the fact that a number of the Club’s current players are the third generation of their families to play rugby for Spartans.

“The Club has always provided the opportunity for youth and adult players from the local area to play rugby, regardless of their background, circumstances or playing ability.”