MOVE over Calendar Girls. The players of Ards Rugby Club have braved the elements to bare all for a cheeky calendar to raise vital funds for charity.
The Hamilton Park Club has again thrown its weight behind the Movember campaign, when many attempt to grow moustaches to raise awareness and funding for men’s health, suicide prevention, as well as prostate and testicular cancer.
Not content with growing facial hair, a dozen intrepid rugby club members recently agreed to cast off their clothes and with eagle-eyed photographer Nigel Williamson behind the lens, have been snapped in various locations from on the rugby pitch to the showers.
The rugby club charity team hope their tasteful and fun-filled calendar will be the ideal Christmas stocking filler and help build on their already impressive fundraising record.
Just last year Ards RFC raised over £25,000 for Movember, after they were inspired by the memory of much missed friend and teammate Ryan Mills, who tragically took his own life in 2021.
As a result, Ards RFC earned the well deserved crown as highest fundraiser across the island of Ireland and third in the United Kingdom overall, raising much needed funds for local and national projects.
From Down Under to across the borough, Movember is now a global charity phenomenon having first begun in Australia when two friends decided to try and bring the moustache back and fundraise for men’s health.
Matt Walker, a member of the club’s Movember charity team, explained how their passion for supporting men’s health evolved into a bare all charity calendar.
Said Matt: “Leading up to this year’s Movember, a ‘crack’ team was put together, led by 1st XV player Jack Smith, to organise fundraising events and get the Movember message out to the masses across Ards and North Down and beyond.
“One of the core initiatives this year is the inaugural Ards RFC calendar, and rugby boys being rugby boys, this very quickly escalated to being a ‘Calendar Girls’ inspired almost nude calendar.”
He said: “A dozen very willing volunteers turned up on a cold and wet Sunday morning to get photos taken by photographer Nigel Williamson. After a lot of laughs and a few mishaps, we had a collection of photos ready for editing.
“A huge thank you has to go to Nigel for not only giving up his time for this great cause, but also spending hours editing and sorting the final shots for printing.”
Said Matt: “Although our aim is to raise as much money for the Movember charity as possible, our main focus is to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
“Please never be afraid to talk to a friend, family member, team mate or colleague. A problem shared is a problem halved. We also have dedicated club members making up a mental health team at Ards RFC so please feel free to get in contact for anything that is on your mind. Remember ‘Don’t just scrum, talk to a chum’.”
The calendars are now available for purchase at the Ards RFC clubhouse bar on Saturdays priced £10. Readers can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org, send a Facebook message or talk to a club member who can organise your purchase.