Owen and Andy Farrell visit Harpenden school for charity presentation
12:00 24 January 2016
England rugby star Owen Farrell and his father Andy made a visit to a Harpenden school – after the school chose a charity close to their hearts.
Pupils at Aldwickbury School, in Wheathampstead Road, decided to raise money for Joining Jack, a charity designed to help research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
It was set up by Andy Johnson, a former team-mate of Andy Farrell’s at Wigan Warriors, after his son Jack was diagnosed with the disease, which is currently a terminal and incurable muscle-wasting disease.
Most patients are confined to a wheelchair by 12, with paralysis and breathing difficulties requiring ventilation following.
The Farrell’s soon became ambassadors for the campaign and Owen’s salute every time he kicks a penalty brought the charity to the attention of the school.
And at the school bazaar in November they managed to raise £5,319.29, which was presented to the Farrell’s at an assembly on Friday.
Headmaster Vernon Hales said: “The best bit is the boys chose it. They nominated it, discussed it in their classes and then voted on it.
“It’s one that obviously touched them. It’s one that affects mainly boys and was set up for a little boy who is about their age.
“The bazaar is a very special day. It’s the whole school community, boys from four to 13, all the mums and dads involved behind the scenes to make it happen.
“It’s nice to have a couple of people that the boys relate to come in and present the cheque.
“It was a great day in November and that was a special assembly.”
Andy Farrell spoke of Jack as a “cheeky young boy who loves to run around” and was delighted to accept the cheque.
He said: “Owen’s a big ambassador of the charity, making the sign when he kicks a goal and for that to be recognised by one of the young boys, Ben Morrow, is fantastic.”
“Coming to collect the cheque on Joining Jack’s behalf is a privilege to us.
“DMD is a disease we haven’t got a cure for but we’re getting close. We’re making great strides but we need as much exposure as we possibly can.
“Every single penny gets put in the right places to get the cure.
“We’re getting there, we have to get there. And we’ll do it for Jack.”
Owen Farrell was clearly touched that his gesture had captured the attention at Aldwickbury.
He said: “It’s good that people are realising and the only reason I do it is to raise awareness.
“And for a school like this to get behind it like they have shows that it is doing some good so that’s brilliant for me.
“To raise money like they have done is massive and it’s exactly what the charity needs.”
For more information on the charity, visit www.joiningjack.org