Exeter Chiefs Foundation donates record amounts during lockdown
The Exeter Chiefs Foundation has distributed funds totalling more than £200,000 since lockdown began.
Despite not being able to gather at Sandy Park as usual because of social distancing rules, the trustees met via Zoom to ensure vital funds were still being shared.
Among the charities and organisations to benefit were Living Options Devon, Exmouth Beach Wheelchair Project, Topsham Bowling Club and Farms For City Children.
The single largest donation of £100,000 was made to Exeter Community Wellbeing – a COVID-19 response service set up by Exeter City Council and public, voluntary and community sector partnership, Wellbeing Exeter – to help those in need through the crisis.
Two other substantial grants, of £15,000 each, were made to Exeter Rowing Club, for a new four-person boat, and Exeter Food Action – which collects excess food from shops and suppliers, and redistributes it to charity – to help pay for a vehicle.
Much of the money that was handed out came from the £350,000 payment that Exeter Chiefs received from Premiership Rugby – their share of a £5.36m fine imposed on Saracens as a result of a salary cap breach.
The club donated all of their allocation to the Foundation with Chiefs Chairman, Tony Rowe OBE, saying at the time: “Given where it has come from, the board felt this sum should go straight into the Foundation’s funds so we could use the money to help a great deal of charities and organisations within our local community.”
Mr Rowe, who is also chairman of the Foundation, said that despite the restrictions of lockdown, it had very much been business as usual for the charity trustees.
He added: “Like a lot of people, we quickly switched our meetings online and were able to make funding decisions and distribute the money in the normal manner.
“Despite the restrictions of the lockdown, we have given away more money in a four-month period than ever before.
“The trustees and I were particularly keen to support the initiative by Exeter City Council and Wellbeing Exeter.
“We felt we needed to play our part and give something back to the community who gave us so much in return during these very tough times.”
A substantial amount of the charity’s money comes from supporters on match day, mainly through bucket collections or car parking donations.
Despite games being postponed and no indication as to when fans will be allowed back into grounds, the Foundation is still receiving contributions from individuals and businesses and will continue to distribute funds.
Trustee and celebrity chef, Michael Caines MBE, said: “We have various sources of funding although the season being put on hold has had an impact on our coffers.
“Having said that, there is still a pot of money available and we would encourage charities and organisations in the Exeter area to continue to apply for funds via our website.”