NEWBURY and Thatcham Hockey Club welcomes some VIP visitors today (Tuesday) when a team from Hockey4Heroes will be at the club to play three matches as they their #OpStetcher challenge.
They will be first be parading through Newbury's Northbrook Street on their way to the club as they continue a marathon tour that has already raised more than £20,000 before the start of the nationwide stretcher trek that is also a test of stamina and endurance.
The Hockey for Heroes squad comprises a number of military and ex-military personnel who carry the stretcher to numerous venues to raise money for Help for Heroes, and over the past year has been involved in 350 events across 50 different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports.
The event gets under way on Friday with a march from Sophia Gardens in Cardiff following an opening match against A Welsh XI before bearing the stretcher to Gloucester City, Chippenham and Royal Wootton Bassett to Newbury where matches will be played against the Royal Navy at 1.30pm and then against Newbury’s first and second XIs at 6pm and 7.30pm.
The tour continues to clubs at Sonning, Amersham and Chalfont, St Albans and Old Loughtonians before ending at Marlow on June 4.
Throughout the tour, the 44-strong squad will take it in turned to bear the stretcher holding fomer Royal Marine Dominic Robert Lovett, who was injured during a military training exercise and is now tetraplegic.
Great Britain men’s team manager Andy Halliday will be supporting #OpStretcher by dribbling a hockey ball behind the stretcher along the entire route.
THE Hockey Club last week had a little help from the cream of the national crop when England internationals Ellie Walton and Ian Sloan held sessions for local school children at the club’s Henwick headquarters.
Kennet and Trinity secondary schools and St Nicolas’ and Francis Baily primary schools had around 60 young players at the event, where they were involved in games sessions in which all got to play with the internationals before taking part in a target shooting competition and then a question and answer session.
It was the first such session to be staged at the Newbury and Thatcham club: “The demand on he players huge,” said one of the organisers, Simon Hannam. “But its the sort of thing we would like to do again.
“Ellie and Ian were great ambassadors for the sport and the children were getting all sorts of things signed, phone cases, hockey sticks and shirts.”