Friday, 4 September 2009

Welsh Lions back charity challenge

A British and Irish Lions shirt signed by the 2009 squad is being offered as a prize for fans making online donations to the justgiving cancer charity by a member of the Wales national squad's backroom staff - and the idea yesterday received some heavyweight support from a quartet of Welsh Lions.

Gethin Jenkins, Alun-Wyn Jones, Andy Powell and Leigh Halfpenny caught up with Wales and Lions analyst Rhodri Bown and his wife at WRU headquarters to reveal the shirt, which has already raised £1,000 from donations at £2 a time on

Bown's wife Katherine is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and the couple have raised over £10,000 pounds since they found out they were affected by the illness in March this year.

The Bowns have a fundraising target of one million pounds and general donations to the fund can be made at, but for a chance to win the unique piece of sporting memorabilia paraded by four of Wales' Lions stars contributors need simply make a £2 donation on the justgiving site - with the lucky winner, chosen at random, to be revealed in November during Wales Invesco Perpetual Series of Autumn games.

"We have set ourselves quite a challenge with the million pounds target, but it's nothing compared to the every day battles faced by people affected by cancer," said Mrs Bown, who has already been overwhelmed with support from the Wales squad, which extended to them wearing pink armbands in her honour during last year's Six Nations tournament.

"The Lions jersey has proved to be a particularly popular idea and we are going to choose the winner before the end of the month now, so anyone who wants to get their name in the hat for just a £2 donation needs to get in there quickly."

Cancer Research UK's work has revolutionised treatments for women with breast cancer. From the pioneering use of mammography in the 1960s, which dramatically improved early detection of the disease, to vital clinical trials of drugs such as tamoxifen, their work has helped save thousands of lives.

Cancer Research UK is the largest single funder of breast cancer research in the UK, spending nearly £44 million on groundbreaking work last year.

"Cancer Research UK is obviously a worthy cause, but it's often not until it affects someone close to you that you wake up to the idea that we could all be doing something more to help," added Cardiff Blues, Wales and Lions No8 Powell.

"We are a close knit team with Wales, as we were with the Lions and Rhodri is an integral part of that team. We will be doing everything we can to help him and his wife Katherine reach their million pound target.

"They've made an impressive start to their fundraising activities already and the Lions shirt seems to have been a real winner - just think someone is going to be taking that home for just £2, that's got to be worth a punt!"


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