08 May, 2023
Support to rebuild Mangawhai’s stricken surf lifesaving clubhouse has come from a surprising location, another beautiful green island also well-known for stunning scenery, rugby, good beer and friendly locals.
Halfway round the world, on a wet March 31 Dublin evening, a large crew of over a hundred bighearted, sporty Irish locals got together for the fundraiser ‘Tag Rugby Blitz’ to run up some cash for victims of Cyclone Gabrielle. Organised by ex-pat kiwi Simon Edgecombe, the event raised an incredible 2750 Euros – equivalent to NZ $4800 – for the worthy cause.
The son of local woman Jeanne Jury, Simon has lived in Ireland for 21 years with his wife Mai and three daughters, and was on a Mangawhai summer holiday enjoying a few days of sunshine ‘when it all broke loose’, she says.
“Simon witnessed the devastation and damage of Cyclone Gabrielle and on returning to Dublin just had to do something about it. It’s been decided that 50 percent of any funds raised would go to the Mangawhai surf club to assist with the damage the slip caused and the other 50 percent to the Hawkes Bay Cyclone Trust, which was chosen as they don’t take out any cash for overhead and administration costs.”
It seems like a natural inclination for Simon to help out kiwis in strife as his Facebook page shows a long list of charity events he supports, from Barnados, local SPCA and Irish clubs, to Alzheimers, fundraiser marathons and ‘growing a mo to save a bro.’
Although he had only four weeks to arrange the event, 120 players were inspired to sign up for the fundraiser, forming nine teams with mates offering their time to ref at no charge. A prize to see Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan’s ‘Tomfoolery’ show was up for grabs and the group also held a BBQ and drinks to celebrate post-games, Simon says.
“When you read stories of people doing so much, giving up their time, doing fundraising etc, I just felt I needed to do something. As I’m involved in tag rugby in Ireland – was a player when I had less grey hair but more recently as a coach and referee – I approached our local organisation, the Irish Tag Rugby Association, about doing a one-night competition to try and raise funds,” he says.
“The Ireland team I coach also did a quiz night fundraiser for the Tag Rugby World Cup in August, they raised 2750 Euros but also donated 300 to the Cyc Gab fundraiser. Was an incredible response from everyone here.”
In Dublin, Simon works for music publicity firm Aitken Promotions, managing a number of big names in the industry such as Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Sugarbabes and Celine Dion, and mum Jeanne says her son is ‘a very busy young man.’
“He is also very involved with the Irish Tag Rugby Association, has been chosen as a referee for the upcoming World Cup starting in London in June, and also coaches the Irish women’s team. His three daughters are also very sport orientated, playing all sorts, every Saturday with Simon and Mai taxiing the girls to their various venues,” she says. “I would like to express our sincere thanks to Simon and the Irish Tag Rugby Association for their efforts to this worthy cause.”
From halfway round the world, ex-pat Kiwi, Simon Edgecombe, inspired Irish tag ruby players to support kiwis in strife after witnessing the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Braving the wet, more than 120 tag ruby players turned up to support the worthy cause which included a donation to Mangawhai surf club. PHOTO/SUPPLIED