Newcastle Falcons have granted a testimonial year to long-serving front-row forward Rob Vickers, with a number of charities set to benefit.
The 35-year-old has made 233 appearances for the Falcons over more than a decade, having made his competitive debut during the 2006-7 season.
As well as recognising Vickers' vast contribution to the club the testimonial year will also raise funds for Doddie Weir's charity, following the recent Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis for the Falcons and Scotland legend.
Other charities to benefit will be the Falcons Community Foundation, of which Vickers is a trustee, and Stay Strong Stu, a charity set up initially to care for Tynedale forward Stu Ridley following his diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour. Even after Stu's passing in 2015 the charity continues to raise funds for related good causes, with former Tynedale player Vickers having an affinity with Stu's farming background.
The committee for Vickers' benefit year is led by Adam Hall from long-term player sponsors Redhead Roofing, the popular prop scoring a try in last week's Aviva Premiership win over Worcester, after which he was officially inducted into the Falcons' 100 Club.
Greeting news of his testimonial, Vickers said: “I’m very humbled to have been awarded this by the club. I’m lucky enough to have a great committee on board, and the money we can raise and the awareness we can bring for the three charities is absolutely fundamental in everything we are doing.
“The Falcons Community Foundation is very close to my heart as a trustee and I’d like to repay the great work they do for the sport in our region. Rugby and farming are my two main passions, and the charities we have chosen reflect that.
“Doddie Weir is someone I know very well from his time at the club, and he has always been great with me. When the news came out about his motor neurone disease diagnosis it was an easy decision for us to make in involving his charity, and typically of Doddie he was straight on the phone asking how he could help us. The message to him was basically to just enjoy the events if he’s there because the point of it is us helping him, rather than the other way round.”
Events for the testimonial year include a 'Fashion & Fizz' night on Saturday November 25 at Kingston Park Stadium, with tickets priced £40 per person or £350 for a table of 10 for an afternoon which includes afternoon tea plus a prosecco and champagne welcome.
There will be a rugby dinner, shoots and a calendar with a difference, where companies can choose a player to come to their business and have their naked photo taken with some kind of representation of their business used to cover the player's modesty! This offer is priced at £500 per month, and calendars will be sold in 2019.
A Facebook page has been created here, upon which further details of events will be published, with one-club man Vickers rightly proud of his ongoing contribution to Newcastle Falcons.
He said: “In the modern game you do get a lot of movement from players but it has been a conscious choice for me and my family to stay where we are, and thankfully the Falcons as a club have been fantastic with me. I never wanted to leave, they’ve always made me feel valued and it has never been an issue.
“At my age the recovery from games does take a little bit longer and the body does begin to creek a bit, but as long as I’m still enjoying it and making a contribution then I’m happy to continue. After all these years I’ve still never had a photo of me diving to score a try because they’ve all been one-yard flops through a heap of bodies, and that’s certainly one thing I’ve been consistent with!”
For more information please contact Melanie Magee on 07764 933 310, Sharon Howey on 07764 933 308 or email BVtestimonial@newcastle-falcons.co.uk .