Worcester Warriors is teaming up with Wooden Spoon, the charity of British and Irish rugby, to celebrate this year's Summer Solstice on June 20 with a one-day, multi-route cycle ride to 'the Henge' in aid of disabled and disadvantaged youngsters and their families.
The Guinness Premiership side is supporting the Summer Solstice Bike Ride - one of the 2009 Spoon Challenges fundraising events - by offering its ground as a start point and joins the likes of Gloucester, Cardiff, London Irish and Bath.
It is also entering players and staff members and urging its fans to take part in the event, which is open to cyclists of all abilities aged 16 and over.
"We are big supporters of Wooden Spoon, which does a lot to promote the game of rugby alongside its excellent work with underprivileged kids," said Pat Sanderson, skipper at Warriors and President of the Worcestershire Committee for Wooden Spoon.
"We're already taking an active role in the Spoon Community Rugby programme, which is a series of rugby-based training initiatives designed to give disadvantaged young people a chance to make something of their lives, and are delighted to help get the Summer Solstice Bike Ride off to a flying start.
"This exciting event certainly puts the fun into fundraising and we're really hoping our fans will get behind it, because if they support this cycle ride like they support us on match days, we'll raise a great deal of money for community projects around the country."
Everyone taking part in the Summer Solstice Bike Ride pledges to raise at least £300 in support of Wooden Spoon's work with mentally, socially and physically disadvantaged young people and can choose their own start point.
This has an impact on how tough the Challenge is, because anyone setting out from Worcester will cycle 70 miles in the day, while those making the trip from Bath or Cardiff will be covering 50 miles and 98 miles respectively.
Although the terrain will vary depending on the start point, most routes will incorporate minor roads, tow paths, tracks and National Cycle Network routes promoted by Sustrans, so mountain bikes or road bikes with cyclo cross tyres will be the order of the day. Each Challenger will be required to carry front and rear lights plus cycle repair kits and must wear a helmet.
Staggered starts will avoid congestion as cyclists get underway and there will be marshals and support riders at pit stops en route to urge the riders on to the finish. Wooden Spoon is also designing the routes and schedule to ensure that all entrants arrive at Barbury Castle, the site of an Iron Age hill fort on the northern edge of the Marlborough Downs, by 10.00pm - when darkness falls.
A celebration barbecue and entertainment will be held in a tented village at the finish site, with a special solstice breakfast served at sunrise. Challengers can choose to camp at the finish site overnight or take up accommodation nearby and return transportation to the start points will be available on the Sunday morning.
"Wooden Spoon is rugby's charity so we're delighted that the Summer Solstice Bike Ride has received such an enthusiastic thumbs-up from both Union and League clubs and hope
the endorsement of Worcester Rugby will encourage the fans to turn out and support us in huge numbers," said organiser Katharine Brindley.
You can sign up for the Summer Solstice Bike Ride - or any of the other Spoon Challenges, which include the ever-popular Four Peaks Challenge and Ford Ranger Great Lakeland Challenge team events - at www.spoonchallenges.com
Alternatively, contact the Wooden Spoon Challenge Office on 01889 582889 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for the cycle ride information pack and entry forms.
About Wooden Spoon
Wooden Spoon's roots are in the game of rugby but it has grown to become a national charity supporting projects for the young and disadvantaged throughout the UK. Founded in 1983 by a group of rugby enthusiasts, Wooden Spoon now raises over £1.5 million a year through national events such as the Spoon Challenges and local events organised by its national and regional committees.
To date, the charity has helped improve the lives of more than 500,000 individuals and their families through an investment of £14m in capital projects located throughout the UK and Ireland. Wooden Spoon currently has 65 live projects with a funding commitment of in excess of £3.2m. While these projects may vary in size and nature - from teenage cancer care units to hydrotherapy pools, sensory gardens and essential equipment - all fulfil Spoon's mission statement: "To enhance the quality and prospect of life for children and young people in the United Kingdom who are disadvantaged either physically, mentally or socially."
The charity's patrons are HRH The Princess Royal and the governing bodies of the four Rugby Union playing nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. To learn more about Wooden Spoon and its projects visit www.woodenspoon.com
Spoon Community Rugby
All rugby's Premiership clubs are supporting Spoon Community Rugby, a range of charitable projects that use rugby to help disadvantaged young people.
The Try for Life scheme comprises 25 projects and involves RFU coaches working in partnership with their local police force's youth offending team to help14-24 year olds heading for a life of crime to change their attitudes and behaviour. Wooden Spoon has donated £50,000 towards the £100,000 cost of the 12-week projects, which mix playing rugby with numeracy, literacy and communication skills.
Try Rugby is being rolled out by the community coaches at all 13 Premiership rugby clubs and aims to combat obesity by encouraging children aged 7-11, especially larger kids, to take regular exercise through rugby. In 2008/2009 Try Rugby programmes will be running in 130 schools officially classified as deprived, with Wooden Spoon making a £130,000 grant to meet half the costs involved.
Niall Annett and Phil Dowson are among three changes to the Warriors starting line-up for their trip to Franklin's Gardens to take on Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership this Saturday (kick-off 3pm).