Our fantastic Northern Ireland volunteers were out in force at the Ulster Rugby New Year’s Day match against Munster, with supporters on both sides helping to raise a fantastic total of over £1,840, with the final amount set to be doubled by a generous anonymous donor!

The team played to a sell-out home crowd at Kingspan Stadium, with the dramatic game ending in a narrow loss for Ulster, despite the team achieving an impressive away win at Connacht before Christmas. 

Whilst the team’s rivals may have prevailed on the pitch, the atmosphere remained one of generosity. Countless volunteers kindly gave their time to support the matchday bucket collection, as did members of the Ulster Rugby team, including players Mike Lowry and Rob Herring. All were only too happy to meet and chat with their fellow rugby fans, many of whom were moved to give to our Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland community appeal, which aims to raise the final £100,000 required to begin building the garden.

Volunteers with Ulster Rugby players Mike Lowry and Rob Herring
BKT United Rugby Championship, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 1/1/2023, Ulster vs Munster
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

The match also presented the perfect opportunity to announce David Ross as our new Garden Ambassador! Being a lifelong Ulster Rugby fan, Team GB Wheelchair Rugby player David was thrilled to be invited to watch the nail-biting New Year’s Day game from the President’s Box with his family.

Together, they joined the volunteer team in helping to raise awareness and funds, spreading the word about our seventh project far and wide with the help of Ulster Rugby players and those involved with the club.

(L-R) John Robinson, President of the IRFU; Mike Lowry and Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ulster Rugby players; David Ross; Rob Herring, Ulster Rugby player; Philip Gregg, President of the IRFU Ulster Branch; and Niall Ryne, Chairperson of the IRFU Management Committee
BKT United Rugby Championship, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 1/1/2023, Ulster vs Munster
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

With the news now out about David becoming a Garden Ambassador, he was delighted to share more about why he’s chosen to lend his support to our Northern Ireland garden. 

“When I was asked to come down to have a look at Horatio’s Garden London & South East, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But going there and seeing it, the garden was far beyond what I imagined it would be like. It’s a really, really incredible space and I can only imagine what it would do for inpatients, outpatients and staff members at the spinal centre at Musgrave Park Hospital.” 

He adds, “Horatio’s Garden would have made my time in rehab tenfold better. It’s an exceptional space and I think everyone will be thrilled to have Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland.” 

We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with David and are enormously grateful to the whole team at Ulster Rugby for their continued support of our seventh project. We would also like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers who generously helped to make the New Year’s Day collection possible. 

There’s certainly a lot for us all to look forward to in 2023!