Sunday, 26 September 2021

We’re not just rugby club but open to all

THE new commercial manager of Henley Rugby Club she wants to increase its community involvement.

THE new commercial manager of Henley Rugby Club she wants to increase its community involvement.

Joanna Emmerson took over from Tom Allen, a current Hawks player and former captain, in March.

She was responsible for the distribution of promotional posters and discount vouchers ahead of last season’s final-day title showdown with Worthing Raiders, which the Hawks won.

Ms Emmerson, of Makins Road, Henley, says she wants families and businesses to make use of the facilities at the club, which will be competing in National League 1 next season.

She said: “We really want to involve the community for more than just the rugby because it’s a great establishment. We want to change attitudes so people don’t see it as a traditional sports club but more of a family and community place where everyone can come up and get something out of it.

“The club is represented by children from age six right up to the senior Hawks team as well as our successful female team so we think there’s something for everyone here.”

Ms Emmerson, a mother-of-three, has a background in account management and pharmaceuticals sales but it was through being part-time manager at Laurence Menswear in Duke Street that she got involved with the club. Laurence Morris, who owns the shop, is a former player.

Ms Emmerson said: “A couple of members of the rugby club came in and were talking about the job. It sounded great so I decided to apply.My role is to give the club more of a commercial focus, fulfilling sponsors’ needs and requirements.”

A family day is due to be held at the club in September, when sponsors will have an opportunity to display their business.

The club also plans to hold a number of social and charity events, including its annual Star Ball in December, as well as additional fund-raising events for both the senior and junior teams.Ms Emmerson said: “While we have the Star Ball as our flagship event, part of my plan is to also have events such as a Christmas extravaganza, a festive market and a fashion show, which will get a lot of the businesses involved.

“It’s difficult times for a lot of people and because it’s economically tough, particularly for retailers and businesses, the more people can network and help each other the better.” The club has joined the Henley Partnership and helped set up a sports sub-group to encourage relationships between the town’s sports clubs.

Ms Emmerson said: “The rugby club is a great platform in terms of the facilities we’ve got, which are probably the best of all the sports clubs.

“We want to create a partnership with those clubs so they can also use them and we’ve got space at the clubhouse we can utilise.”

She also wants to encourage families to watch the Hawks’ games and repeat the success of the Worthing match, which was watched by a league and club record crowd of 3,270.

She said: “Mike Poulson, the director of rugby, told me that when the team walked out in front of such a big crowd it really lifted them.

“They realise how important having the support of the local community is and they want to give back if they can.”

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