Women’s rugby player Jen Kirby has taken on a new sporting challenge to raise money for ellenor.
The 25-year-old is training for the London Landmarks Half Marathon, alongside fellow rugby players Leah Poppy and Holly Hicks. All three women are members of the recently formed Old Gravesendians Women’s Rugby team.
Jen said: “I’ve noticed that the running has given me a lot more stamina. Rugby is very physical, but I think that to run you need more mental strength and determination.”
Jen and Leah helped to set up the women’s team last summer and have since become firm friends. Leah is ellenor’s Supporter Engagement Officer and has encouraged her fellow team mates to help raise money for ellenor.
Jen said: “I only live round the corner from ellenor hospice. It has always been such a big part of Gravesend, so I have always been aware of it, although I was not 100 per cent sure what they do, but I have learned from Leah. I naively thought it was just for end-of-life care, but I didn’t realise until recently that they come out into the community too.
“ellenor is not just a hospice. They are helping my nan at the moment with day visits to her home and they have also helped my boyfriend Luke’s nan. It’s a charity that has touched everyone in the community in some way either personally or through a friend or relative. Ellenor is really quite a presence in Gravesend. It made sense to raise money for such a good local cause.”
There are between 15 and 20 players in the women’s team with Jen now and so far, they have played one proper 10-a-side game against Dartford Valley. Unfortunately, an injury stopped play.
Jen said: “I come from a rugby family and both my brother and my boyfriend play for the Old Gravesendians. We are quite a competitive family and sport is important to us. I have always been part of the rugby club and was keen to get on board when it was suggested we start a women’s team. I met Leah in our first training session – her dad was a member of the club too.”
Although a member of the club, Jen had never played rugby herself until the women’s team was set up last summer. Rugby is not a sport available at all schools, and girls’ teams are particularly rare, so she is glad to see more schools and clubs introducing the sport and opening it up to women players.