An Introduction to the W2 Foundation
The W2 Foundation is the culmination of many differing events and ideas. It crystallised at my testimonial at the Grosvenor ten years ago but in reality had started all the way back in 1996. Being Captain of Ireland opened many doors to serious people; people who achieved in their daily lives and supported those less well off, their hard work and vision had given them many advantages and by extension many responsibilities. Irish sport and business is full of these characters and as I have got to know them over the years they have given me encouragement and guidance.
I was very lucky early on to team up with The Ireland Funds. W2 is a donor advised fund that targets its grants at charities and groups that are close to all our hearts. The core pillars are youth, community and rugby; from playing pitches to special needs class rooms, from paralytic support and The Stuart Mangan scholarship, to Special Olympics, and from Handstand, the heartwarming story of Redruth Rugby Club and its vice Chairman Marshall Janson to The Irish Youth Foundation in London.
W2 Consulting, under Mark O’Connell, has used its expertise pro bono to help leverage these funds against European, governmental and philanthropic funds. This assistance can become the catalyst for local clubs and individuals to make their dreams a reality. Hence a €400,000 grant to Clarisford Park became a €2.5 million development on the banks of the River Shannon, a 30 acre community park that is now home to the scouts, rugby and soccer, previously clubs without a home. The numbers using the park are staggering, 4,500 weekly in a small rural town. In addition, W2 has put the structures in place to ensure that this facility is run in a cost effective fashion, to ensure its existence long into the future.
Stuart Mangan is a name that most rugby fans will remember. Stuart got paralysed in Hammersmith playing rugby in 2008. His paralysis was total, but his mental strength was extraordinary. The W2 Foundation was able to alleviate some of the initial worries with a grant in the weeks immediately after his injury. Tragically for Stuart his time was short and he passed away a year later. His trust re-donated the funds back to W2 and now Stuart’s name lives on, not just in our memories, but also in a scholarship and mentoring programme in UL for paralysed sportsmen and women.
And of course, we have the Special Olympics, an organisation that can only light up your life. Ireland has the most successful programme in the world, one of the reasons being the support of sportspeople throughout the country. Being involved with Special Olympics for the last seven years has been the best decision I have made since retiring and also the most uplifting. It is a movement where joy is present on a daily basis.
An Irish Night in London, February 2016