THE MERCHANDISE manager at Bournemouth Rugby Club has started a 100km walk over two days to raise money for the struggling rugby side.

Paul Chapman, the Account Executive at Finch Group, one of Bournemouth Rugby Club’s sponsors, hopes to raise £1,000 for the club by walking continuously around the perimeter of the rugby team’s home ground Chapel Gate.

He said: “I have only been involved with the club for a year so far, but my company has been involved with the club for three years

“In that time, I have come to enjoy the family feel of the club and involved in this close-knit rugby community.

“However, when lockdown hit, the fact that the club had to close left a huge hole for so many people.

“The club had no income coming in through its shop or fixtures and hundreds and hundreds of kids and adults can no longer meet up and socialise and play rugby.”

Paul decided to take on his 100km walking challenge to not only raise money for the club but to also raise the profile of the club.

He added: “I wanted to do something a bit glitzier. A few years ago I did a fundraiser for Poole Town where I cycled from Poole to Wembley so I was looking to do a walk from Bournemouth to Twickenham but with what is going on, it has made things a bit more tricky.

“The biggest challenge won’t necessarily be the aches and pains from the walk, but the mental endurance of walking the same route for two whole days.”

Having started yesterday morning, Paul will complete his fundraising challenge today.

With their two main sources of income, through sponsorships and memberships, cut drastically due to the ongoing pandemic, the rugby club has received helped from the rugby community to help raise funds for the club.

With the Covid-19 outbreak leading to the curtailing of last season, Bournemouth Rugby Club lost money through outstanding fixtures as well as sponsorships from businesses who themselves are struggling due to the pandemic.

The club hosted a 1111 campaign or each age group and team to raise £1,111 each to help support the club. Having set a target of £20,000, the rugby club managed to raise half of their expected total to cover the immediate loss from last season.

Operations Director, Wendy King said: “The support that we have had has been amazing and helped keep us going

“We managed to raise £10,000 which was not our target but is still an amazing effort

“What was more important than the money was the fact that everyone got involved to help the club and it has helped maintain the engagement of players, supporters and sponsors.”

Having set himself a target of £1,000 on his GoFundMe page, Paul has so far raised £200 towards his fundraising challenge.

Wendy added: “Paul understand the challenges we have been experiencing and wanted to do something to help us.

“If he reaches his target, it will make a huge difference for us. Every penny that Paul raises through his challenge will be greatly appreciated.”