WHEN Mike Tindall became patron of Rugby For Heroes last year, the charity was operating out of the house of its CEO, Alan Lamb.
Twelve months on and the organisation has just moved into a new home on Barton Street in Gloucester, showing how much it has gone from strength to strength.
The charity’s focus is to raise awareness and funds to provide support to ex-military servicemen and women in close co-operation with partner Remount, who run weekend courses designed to provide a springboard for former forces personnel returning to civilian life.
The aim is to help them make the transition and resettlement from military service back into civilian life and to help them cope with life-changing experiences.
Quiz nights, dinners and a calendar raised funds to help them overcome and deal with the challenges of Post Operational Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Tindall originally got involved in the charity through former teammates Ryan Lamb, Alan’s son, and Anthony Allen, who are both trustees.
Alongside current Cherry and Whites team-mates Nick Wood and Matt Cox, Tindall presented a cheque for £20,000 to Army personnel, after a busy year of fundraising.
And England’s most-capped centre now wants to see the organisation grow even bigger and raise yet more money for their worthy cause.
“It has been a slow grower in terms of it originally being all based around a calendar that came out once a year,” said Gloucester player/coach Tindall.
“We have had some great help and we managed to get that first dinner out and we had such good support.
“Everyone who came to that dinner has been really supportive and we managed to get a few guys who were ex-forces who really appreciate what Rugby For Heroes and Remount are trying to do.
“They have committed long term and we have already sold 20 tables for next year’s dinner.
“When you get that sort of support it is brilliant because it means you can go away and plan things as you know all of those guys will always be there supporting the charity.
“Handing over a cheque for £20,000 which guarantees that 20 soldiers or 20 armed personnel will go through the programme is great and hopefully we can just keep expanding it and it will grow further.”
Having watched the charity grow considerably in the last year, Tindall says in some respects he can relate to the issues former servicemen and women are going through.
The former England captain is experiencing a huge transition himself as he finds his feet in his new role as a player/coach at Kingsholm.
The ex-Bath man is taking his first steps into coaching after his future was cast in doubt when former head coach Bryan Redpath did not offer him a contract.
But with new director of rugby Nigel Davies coming in this summer and offering him the chance to begin his coaching journey, Tindall says he was pleased to extend his seven-year spell in the city.
With Tindall just getting to grips with his new position, the 2003 World Cup winner says his latest expedition is nowhere near as hazardous as what people leaving the services are going through.
“I have known a couple of guys who have been in the services but I have not had that experience of seeing someone who has really struggled,” added Tindall.
“I am lucky that the people I know have had a smooth transition back but everyone unfortunately sees different levels of combat or active duty there and it affects everyone in their own way.
“When you are at school you always have someone telling you what to do and when you have got to hand things in and when you do this and that.
“But when you go to university you are on your own and some people can’t handle that transition.
“You have teachers telling them when to hand something in and that you have got a semester to do it and you have to manage your own time.
“It is on a massively larger scale with the armed forces coming back but it is still the same problems.
“The link between rugby and the armed forces all comes from camaraderie to team work, leadership and honesty.
“Now I am in a sort of strange position with what I am doing.
“I still want to play and still try to be an influence on Gloucester but also at the same time I have got to think about what is best for Gloucester and what helps Gloucester move forward.
“You have got to find that balance between what is best for you but ultimately what is best for the team and that is what the armed forces are.
“They are a group of individuals but everyone has to be geared towards what is best for the team because if someone goes off script then from their side of it, it can be catastrophic.”