Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Rory McIlroy are just some of the famous names contributing to a charity auction organised by two Lurgan mums.
Jacob’s mum Dr Janine Stockdale and her friend and colleague Dr Esther Reid lecture in midwifery and had a brainwave on how to help those struggling to get maternity care in Africa.
The idea germinated earlier this year and just before the Six Nations started Janine mentioned to rugby international Jacob about him possibly signing an Ulster Rugby shirt to raise funds for the charity.
He responded that if he got to play in the Six Nations, they could have his jersey. Lo and behold, Jacob was selected for the Ireland Six Nations team who won the historic Grand Slam on a snowy Saint Patrick’s Day at Twickenham.
That day, Jacob broke a record for the most tries scored in the Six Nations and won player of the championship.
For Esther and Janine, this only made the promised jersey an even better fundraising prospect for the Amani Family Centre and ELSSA (Essential Life Saving Skills for Africa)!
Both mums lecture in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University, Belfast and with advice from colleagues and friends at Lurgan Tigers, it was decided that selling raffle tickets wasn’t the best way to use the jersey for fundraising and so Scrums for Mums was born!
Scrums for Mums stands for: Skilled, Compassionate, Respectful, Universal, Maternity Services For Mums.
Esther said: “It is an initiative that aims to celebrate rugby by raising funds.”
In 2013 Esther went to Uganda with the Royal College of Midwives. She was struck by the number of women and babies who died in Africa, simply because they didn’t have access to skilled health care professionals.
“You can’t go to somewhere like Kampala and just switch off who you are as a midwife. On the contrary, the lack of skilled maternity care and basic resources, that lead to preventable deaths simply won’t let you.”
In April 2017, Esther and Janine became office buddies when they were both employed by Queen’s University Belfast as Lecturers in Midwifery Education.
Esther returned to Kampala and there she met a NI midwife (Diane Lockhart) who was living there and working in the slums providing midwifery care to women and babies who otherwise would have no access to skilled maternity services.
Diane’s work in the slums has grown and she has recently opened the Amani Family Centre – but she needs help to secure a decent vehicle for transferring sick women and babies to hospital
They were introduced to another NI Charity - ELSSA (Essential Life Saving Skills in Africa). ELSSA is made up of a team of Consultant Obstetricians, Midwives and Nurses (including neo-natal nurses) who travel into South Sudan (one of the world’s newest but most unstable countries), to teach local doctors, midwives and nurses how to save the lives of babies and their mothers.
And so the Scrums4Mums event was born and the Black Tie Gala Dinner and Auction will take place on August 29 at the Whitla Hall at QUB. Hosted by BBC presenter Stephen Watson the highlight of the evening is the Grand Slam Interview with Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale; and entertainment will be provided by Tim McGarry (comedian) and Rod Hogg (magician) plus lots of items for auction from sporting greats.
For information check out www.scrums4mums.com