In the last issue of Spoonews, it was with great sadness that we reported the untimely passing of Mike Whetstone at the age of 22. Mike's parents, Teresa and Neil, have very kindly written about his life and legacy for which Spoon is eternally grateful.
"In September 2009, we had the most difficult conversations with our son that any parent can imagine. He told us what he wanted his funeral to be like, what to do with his possessions and what to do with any money raised in his memory.
Mike had been a passionate rugby enthusiast since the age of six when he joined the mini section at Old Coventrian's Rugby Club. A talented player, he went on to Captain his school side at King Henry VIII, Coventry as well as playing for Coventry Schools and Warwickshire. At Kent University, he became a key player in the first team going on to be Captain in his final year.
Four days after his 21st birthday Mike was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer, but after extensive treatment, surgeons discovered that the cancer had spread. The way that Mike lived his life both before and after diagnosis has been an inspiration to many people; he was truly brave and courageous, always thinking of his friends and family before himself.
Mike playing his beloved sport
We have held two memorial rugby matches, the first being the current Kent University side against "Mike's Marauders," (UKC Old Boys) and another against a combination of Mike's union and league teams in Coventry. Nearly £15,000 has been raised for Spoon in Mike's memory.
Mike chose the Wooden Spoon because of its association with rugby, his lifelong passion. He wanted something positive to come from his memory and we have been delighted with his choice. Ian Holroyd, Warwickshire Chairman, has been very supportive, involving us in a project to remember Mike at every stage.
The garden being created in a disadvantaged area of Coventry will be a lasting legacy to Mike, planted up in Spoon colours, enabling children, both able and less-able to benefit from being outside and active. We cannot think of a better tribute to our son."
The recent passing of Andy Ripley, at the age of 62, has left the world of rugby in a state of shock and sincere sadness that such an athletic, charismatic man should be lost to prostate cancer at such a young age. A true legend on the field, winning 24 caps for England in the 70's as well as representing the British & Irish Lions on the 1974 tour to South Africa.
Bob Harris, Wooden Spoon, Development Director, Rugby & Challenges pays tribute to Andy;
A distinctive figure with his long strides matching his flowing long hair, Andy was a tremendous all round sportsman who also excelled in the world of athletics. He became an accomplished triathlete, nearly qualifying for the Boat Race as well as reaching the semi-finals of the National AAA'S championships in the 400m.
Some readers will fondly remember Andy winning the legendary 'Superstars' competition, then donating the £8,000 prize money to the RFU, saying, "By the time I've paid tax on it, I would be lucky to afford a second hand mini." As a passionate Welshman, I can remember Andy playing for England against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in the 70's when he would create havoc with his rangy long runs and his knees almost touching his chin when he was in full flight. I was honoured to play against him in the late 70's and thank God I didn't have to tackle him too often; he really was some player. On hearing of his retirement from International Rugby, the whole of Wales breathed a sigh of relief. If we're honest, we really wish he'd been Welsh!
Andy was a wonderful supporter of Wooden Spoon, attending lunches, dinners and scheme openings. Even after his diagnosis, he attended a project opening, which truly is a measure of the great man. Wooden Spoon will always be eternally grateful for his support. The world will be a poorer place for his untimely passing.
Rugby Legend Andy Ripley
Recently, I met with former Welsh Rugby legend, Phil Bennett OBE, who said of Andy, "Andy was a great player and an extremely valuable member of the 1974 Lions team in South Africa. As an outside half, life was much easier playing with him than playing against him. He was a brilliant athlete and played his rugby in the true spirit of the game. He was strong, physical and very passionate and most important, he was a lovely man who will be sadly missed.
Wooden Spoon, CEO, Bill Hill also remembers Andy,"Andy Ripley was an immense character and will be an immense loss to Wooden Spoon. Even in poor health he launched his huge frame to support a project opening in Surrey despite his own personal adversity he charmed everybody there... Such was the generosity and spirit of the man."
Another member of staff, who was fortunate to play with Andy, is Spoon Golf Development Director, Tony Richards. They toured South Africa together as members of the1972 England touring party. Tony said, "I think that all those that played with Andy will remember him as one of the most competitive and charismatic rugby players of our generation. In these latter years, Andy has found time to attend Wooden Spoon events to which he brought his effervescent personality to the benefit of the disadvantaged children we support. I remember him with great affection."
A memorial service for Andy Ripley will be held at 2.30pm on Wednesday 1st December 2010, at Southwark Cathedral in London.
The Conventry Blaze U16Ice Hockey Team
We were saddened to learn of the death of Clark McCallum a popular local PE teacher at Coundon Court School in Coventry for over 20 years who passed away in March 2010 aged 55.
Clark was well known and respected in local rugby and cricket circles with two former famous rugby pupils at Coundon Court being Leon Lloyd and Jim Hamilton. Nearly 2000 online tributes posted on Facebook gave testament to the affection in which he was held by those who know him. At the funeral, donations were made to Wooden Spoon and the Warwickshire Region was grateful for the kind donations of £1,643 made in Clark's name.
Clarkie, Clark's son is a chip off the old block being an excellent all round sportsman playing rugby for Leicester Tigers EPDG elite player development group, cricket for Coventry & Warwickshire and ice hockey. The Coventry Blaze U16 Ice Hockey team held its own event, raising a further £351 for Wooden Spoon.