ERSKINE, Scotland’s largest veterans Charity, have presented Rangers’ Managing Director, Stewart Robertson, with a token of gratitude after Rangers Supporters Erskine Appeal (RSEA) reached the £1million fundraising mark earlier this year.
It’s a memorable year for everyone involved in this achievement as Rangers celebrate their 150th anniversary in the 21/22 season and Erskine Charity celebrate their 105thafter being established in 1916.
Earlier this year, the RSEA reached a momentous milestone by reaching the £1million mark in fundraising since it was set up more than 14 years ago. In celebration of this achievement, Erskine have gifted Rangers Football Club with a unique illustration of the poem called ‘The Poppy’ written by Paul Hunter.
Paul’s poem was written in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The poem underlines what the poppy signifies to him as a reminder of the servicemen and women who have fallen. The gift was handwritten by the poet and illustrated by his wife Sheila Hunter. The illustration reads ‘Presented to Rangers Football Club by Erskine Hospital to thank Rangers Support and the RSEA.’
Stewart Robertson, Rangers Managing Director, said: “The hard-work and endeavour of the Rangers Supporters Erskine Appeal is a credit to our entire support. Reaching over £1 million in fundraising efforts is a stunning achievement and all for a fantastic charity. Erskine goes above and beyond to ensure that our ex-servicemen and women are looked after with the highest quality of care and is a charity that we are proud to support.
“We accept this gift from Erskine with immense pride and look forward to many more years of friendship between our two organisations. We thank Paul and Sheila for producing such a wonderful piece of artwork and poetry.”
Tom Clark, RSEA secretary, said: “We view Paul’s poem as a fitting gift following years of fundraising as it epitomises everything that we do for Erskine. We are here to help support our nation’s heroes – servicemen and women who deserve to be honoured following years of service protecting each and every one of us. It is fantastic to see representatives of Erskine, Rangers and the RSEA all together to unveil and gift these poems, as we continue to work together to support this worthy cause.”
Founded in 2007, the Rangers Supporters’ Erskine Appeal has funded a variety causes for former veterans across Scotland. The RSEA has worked on multiple projects for the charity raising funds to pay for wages and medicine, Dementia rooms for mind stimulation, cars for transport, cinema rooms and educational technology.
Speaking exclusively to rangers.co.uk, the RSEA’s secretary Tom Clark and Events Co-ordinator Murray Roxburgh have reflected on the milestone achievement that they and the supporters have reached over the course of the 14 years. He said: “It’s very much the scenario about the boulder. When you push a boulder it’s very difficult in the beginning but once you get help it’s so much easier. Murray [Roxburgh] is one of those hands and so is the support from the fans.”
The first fundraiser that the RSEA ran raised £1000 over the course of two weeks whilst more recent projects have reached the £10,000 mark in one day. He added “I think it is important for people to know that they can help and if they can take inspiration for what we’ve done.”
The RSEA has organised numerous events throughout the years to raise funds including dinners, raffles, sponsored walks, five-a-side football games, Champions League nights, bowls games and merchandise. Some dinners have featured a host of club legends including Harold Davis, Davy Wilson, Willie Henderson, Gordon Smith, Willie Johnston, Colin Stein, Brian Laudrup, Terry Hurlock, Dave Smith and Sasa Papac.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the RSEA have continually made efforts during lockdown restrictions by finding alternative ways to create engaging fundraising events for the veteran’s charity. The organisation has encouraged supporters to continue raising their own funds during these periods. They said: “It gives people incentives when working on their own project for Erskine. If they’ve got their own project to focus on to raise funds for it works better and they feel more involved with the organisation.”
Indeed, Tom Clark’s dad Jim, participated in a marathon walk over the course of two days during lockdown to continue to help raise funds for the cause. The 74-year-old walked 26 miles and raised £26,000 for the charity which assisted in the payment of a new car for Erskine with the money raised.
The RSEA’s fundraising has been enhanced by two allied fan Groups, the Rangers Supporters Erskine Appeal North East (RSEANE), who fundraise in Aberdeenshire and by 750 blue-nosed members of the Scottish Rail Industry collectively known as “the Railway Bears”, who were founded in 2015.
The next event on the RSEA calendar is the Craig MacInnes Memorial Bowls Day at Partick BC, which regularly realises a sum in excess of £10,000 for the Erskine Glasgow Home in Anniesland.
Tom and Murray highlighted the spirit within the club and fans adding that it was all possible through RSEA fundraising and the backing of Rangers supporters. They added: “There is very much a community feel to the RSEA across past and present players and supporters within the club. All Rangers fans have grabbed onto this cause and supported it and that’s what we love about it, - everyone wants to get involved. We as individuals have not raised £1million, the Rangers family have.”