The Earl of Forfar has become the Royal patron of an Angus sports charity after a historic visit to the town last year.
Strathmore Community Rugby Trust was one of the stops on a busy tour for the new Earl and Countess of Forfar when they visited the county town for the first time after gaining their new Scottish titles.
Their itinerary included the Inchmacoble Park home of Strathmore RFC, where the three-year-old community trust runs a number of initiatives designed to increase communities’ participation in sport in Angus to benefit their health and wellbeing.
Their Royal Highnesses saw the Stracathro Estates Rugby Academy in action, which teaches secondary pupils life skills as well as rugby, before being introduced to players.
They also saw the Strathmore Clan taking part in a unified rugby session, which provides people with disabilities the opportunity to build confidence and social skills by engaging in a controlled game of contact rugby, and learned about the autism-friendly rugby for primary children initiative which the trust introduced to Scotland in May 2019.
The Earl of Forfar pledged to take a keen interest in the life of the town and the trust has been thrilled he has taken up the invitation to be its Royal patron.
In a video message of support, the Earl said: “Making sport and sports clubs truly open, welcoming and accessible for all members of the community is much harder than you might think.
“When Sophie and I visited the Strathmore Community Rugby Trust we were truly impressed by the range of people engaged, especially the inclusion of those with autism. Rugby is not exactly the first sport one might introduce to those with autism, yet here they all were and having great fun.
“While full-on, full-contact rugby might not be for everyone, there are a surprisingly wide variety of options of the game catering for all ages and abilities, even for those who prefer just walking. It is also evident that families can benefit from the sport even if they aren’t playing.
“It is charities like Strathmore Community Rugby Trust and the brilliant people that run them that provide such wonderful opportunities for all.
“This is an organisation that the community of Forfar and Angus should be proud of and I sincerely hope that with your support and encouragement will continue to grow and flourish.”
Trust chairman Stuart Gray added: “When we set up the trust three years ago, we couldn’t have imagined that by now we would have been honoured with a Royal visit and now have a Royal patron.
“This is thanks to the hard work of our staff, volunteers, participants, supporters and the generosity of the Earl and Countess and our sponsors.
“We’re now looking forward to planning His Royal Highness’s next visit while we work on resuming the trust’s activities.
We’re keen to hear from people young and old wanting to register to take part in our Rugby Academy, Unified Rugby, Walking Rugby and autism-friendly rugby programmes as we know these will help everyone involved recover from the physical and mental difficulties which came with lockdown.”