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‘Whirlwind’ rugby fan trains Tigers
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
A RUGBY fanatic who dedicates his free time to bringing the sport to inner-city kids has been nominated for a South London Press Our Heroes Award.
Vernon Neve-Dunn, 49, started Southwark Tigers Rugby Club in 2000 while working as a teacher at Charlotte Sharman Primary School in West Square, Elephant & Castle.
He started the club from his car boot, holding training on an open patch of grass at Burgess Park in Camberwell and often first having to clear debris including broken glass.
Mr Neve-Dunn, from Tulse Hill, said: “I really thought the kids would benefit from playing because of the sport’s core values of discipline and respect.
“There was nothing in the area – no rugby club that was accessible to the kids from that area and it needed to be done.”
Since its modest beginnings, the club has expanded and now has a clubhouse, pitches with posts and storage at Burgess Park.
Father-of-one Mr Neve-Dunn said: “We have three adult teams and six juniors, with a total membership of around 250 people of all ages.
“Girls and women are involved and we have about 12 parents who are volunteer coaches. I am really proud that we have shown kids from Southwark, mainly Peckham, can behave themselves and compete on the field.
“We often play in posher areas like Tunbridge Wells, Esher and Richmond, and the clubs are really friendly.”
He started the Southwark Tigers club with help from Kent County RFU in West Malling, Kent, and Southwark council.
He was nominated for an Our Heroes award by Helen Clayton, from Premiership Rugby, the organisation that looks after the country’s 12 top clubs.
She said: “He is a man possessed by rugby. He is fabulous, I don’t know how he has done so much – he’s like a whirlwind. He really sees the benefits of it for local kids.”
The Our Heroes campaign ends with a gala ceremony at the South Bank headquarters of sponsors Shell on November 15.
Copyright Tindle Newspapers Ltd Saturday, 18 May 2013
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