Former England rugby player Jason Leonard OBE helped raised £11,200 for Haven House Children’s Hospice on Tuesday 23 Febuary by discussing the highlights of his career in a packed room with fans at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Bloomsbury, London.

Leonard, President of the RFU, took part in an hour long Q&A with broadcaster and Haven House Patron Ben Shephard and said that he turned to rugby as a young boy growing up in Barking in order to stay out of trouble at school.

Leonard began playing for Barking when he was 18. At the age of 21 he was the youngest prop forward to ever play for England against Argentina at Buenos Aires in 1990.

He first became aware of Haven House in Woodford Green as a regular visitor to the nearby Woodford Rugby Club. Along with visiting children and staff at the hospice, Leonard has helped with fundraising for many years.

Leonard said sportspeople had a “duty” to support local causes as they had been lucky to achieve success.

“We’ve been very lucky in our chosen sport and I think every single person knows that if it wasn’t for a certain coach, teacher, or very patient parent standing on the sidelines somewhere, we may not have had that opportunity.”

Leonard added: “A playing career can be very fragile, it can all end tomorrow which is why sports men and woman are very good at giving back as they have a duty to give back people to people who are in a far worse position.”

Mike Palfreman, Chief Executive of Haven House, said: “We are extremely grateful to Jason Leonard and our Patron, Ben Shephard, for taking part in Tuesday’s event for Haven House.

“Not only was it fascinating to hear Jason discuss his impressive sporting career and current thoughts on the Six Nations, but the evening raised vital funds for local life-limited children and their families.”

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