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Hadleigh Rugby Club hit badly by arson attack but rugby family rally round to support them in bid to be ready for start of 2020/21 season




An arson attack that has left Hadleigh Rugby Club without equipment and changing facilities has left officials facing a race against time to be in a position to take part in the 2020/21 season.

But despite chairman Charlie Warburton describing last Monday’s fire leaving behind a ‘nightmare’ situation, he said they had been bowled over by the support that has flooded in from the public and the rugby community, across the whole country.

A GoFundMe page to cover what they are not set to be able to get back through their insurance claims has raised more than £7,500 of a £10,000 target in just five days.

Hadleigh Rugby Club’s chairman Charlie Warburton (front left) and town councillor and football club chairman Rolf Beggerow (front right) in front of all that is left of the storage building. Back row, from
left, Hadleigh Tennis Club president Peter Richards and club chair Geoff Scott, rugby club vice chairman Miles Payton and Haldeigh Town Council manager Andy McMillan Picture: Mark Westley
Hadleigh Rugby Club’s chairman Charlie Warburton (front left) and town councillor and football club chairman Rolf Beggerow (front right) in front of all that is left of the storage building. Back row, from left, Hadleigh Tennis Club president Peter Richards and club chair Geoff Scott, rugby club vice chairman Miles Payton and Haldeigh Town Council manager Andy McMillan Picture: Mark Westley

“The response has been amazing,” said Warburton.

“It has not just been local clubs, but almost every local club has been in touch and offered support, which includes people, trades and advice.

“We have also been really surprised that clubs across the UK have got in touch, such as County Durham, Sunderland, Cornwall, Gloucester, Richmond, Barking and Basildon.

Hadleigh Rugby Club's home changing room has been heavily damaged by an arson attackPicture: Hadleigh RFC (36790081)
Hadleigh Rugby Club's home changing room has been heavily damaged by an arson attackPicture: Hadleigh RFC (36790081)

“One example is Harpenden Rugby Club who have said ‘we have over ordered on hit shields and tackle pads but we have the same initials as you HRFC, so we can send them to you; let us know and we can send them over in a van’. Not only that but they have given us £250 as well.”

Despite not being associated with the Eastern Counties League 1 South club, Ipswich-based company Recom Surfacing have pledged them £1,000.

“On behalf of all of us, what people have done and offered already is just hugely appreciated,” added Warburton.

“We are incredibly humbled by it and it is powerful to see that community spirit alive and well.”

The damage caused by the arson attack at Hadleigh Rugby Club Picture by Mark Westley. (36736677)
The damage caused by the arson attack at Hadleigh Rugby Club Picture by Mark Westley. (36736677)

The fire at the Layham Road Hadleigh Town Council-owned site was spotted as emanating from the rugby club’s main storage outbuilding at 11.59pm on June 8. It soon engulfed the nearby home dressing room building, which also contained shower and toilet blocks.

Smoke damage was also caused to the separate adjacent building, used by Hadleigh Tennis Club as a club room.

But the firefighters were able to prevent any damage to the rest of the buildings, which incorporates the away dressing room and the rugby club’s clubhouse and bar.

The entrance to Hadleigh Rugby Club's Layham Road ground
The entrance to Hadleigh Rugby Club's Layham Road ground

Warburton said: “Without their swift actions I think it would have probably engulfed the whole site and destroyed it, totalling hundreds of thousands (of pounds in damage).

“We are incredibly grateful to them as they were quick on site after getting the call and were able to suppress it; hats off to them.”

After a loss adjuster visiting the site, where the rugby club have 10 junior age groups and one senior team based, work to clear it is set to get under way on Saturday.

It is then hoped something can be done about replacing the changing room and equipment storage facility in time to be able to start the 2020/21 season, which ordinarily begins in September.

Warburton said: “If we have not got a changing facility we are not permitted by the RFU to stage fixtures and participate in league rugby. The weird thing is we are starting a race against time with an uncertain finish, as we do not know when it will be.”

Hadleigh Rugby Club chairman Charlie Warburton with town councillor and Haldeigh United FC chairman Rolf Beggerow Left, Middle Andy McMillantown council manager. Picture by Mark Westley. (36757315)
Hadleigh Rugby Club chairman Charlie Warburton with town councillor and Haldeigh United FC chairman Rolf Beggerow Left, Middle Andy McMillan  town council manager. Picture by Mark Westley. (36757315)

He said a temporary rebuild solution is something being considered to help them meet their time target and he thanked the town council for all their help since the incident.

Anyone wishing to donate to the club’s GoFundMe page, set up by Francesca Hampshire, can find it by clicking here.


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