‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ after wheelchair theft

The European Challenge Cup between Leyland Warriors in red and the Catalan Dragons. Warriors will travel to France in May to face the Dragons for the second leg of the competition
The European Challenge Cup between Leyland Warriors in red and the Catalan Dragons. Warriors will travel to France in May to face the Dragons for the second leg of the competition

Things are looking up for a disabled rugby club which had more than £2,000 of wheelchairs stolen this month.

As recently reported in the Guardian, the Leyland Warriors Rugby Club suffered a major blow when two specialist chairs, used by its wheelchair team which is made up of disabled and able-bodied players, were taken from a lock-up unit at the Moss Side Playing Fields.

“It was panic stations to be honest because the season starts next month and players were having to take it in turns during practice because there weren’t enough chairs”

Phil Roberts, chair of the Leyland Warriors Rugby Club

After seeing the story in the newspaper, Moss Side councillor Michael Green, who is also a county councillor for Leyland, encouraged chairman Phil Roberts to apply for funding from the council’s Disabled Champions pot.

Around £1,240 has now been granted to the club, which will go some way to replacing the stolen equipment, which also included spare wheels.

Phil said: “We’ve had some dark says recently, but there are some very bright lights at the end of the tunnel now.

“We worked out that to buy two new chairs would cost the best part of £2,500, so it was panic stations to be honest because the season starts next month and players were having to take it in turns during practice because there weren’t enough chairs.”

Phil explained that people couldn’t use standard chairs for the games, as the specialist chairs have an extra ‘anti-tip’ wheel at the back, and the wheels go further out at the bottom than they do at the top to make them less likely to tip sideways.

He added: “This grant is a tremendous amount, and will go some way to replacing the stolen equipment.”

Coun Green said: “When I heard about what had happened and how it was affecting the team, it rang a bell because I knew there was some funding left in the Disabled Champions pot.

“I called Phil and advised him to fill in a form as soon as possible to apply for the funding, because the Warriors is such an important group for the community of Moss Side.

“They still need a bit more money, but the amount they have been given is a massive contribution and is a great start.

“They do such a good job and this was such a massive setback when the team is making such great progress.”

He added: “It’s mindless of the people who broke into the lock-up unit and stole the chairs and the spare wheels.

“It’s about as low as you could get.”