Saints with Heart was established in 2002, after three Saints supporters had heart attacks in relatively quick succession. Very quickly a sponsored walk up the Grand Union Canal was organised, raising £4,000.
Each year since a similar walk has been organised, all finishing at Franklin’s Gardens ahead of a Saints home game, and to date those 12 events have pulled in £168,000-worth of donations which have gone towards the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) work researching heart disease prevention and supporting sufferers recover.
This year’s main event takes place on Saturday, May 9th, ahead of the Saints’ Aviva Premiership Round 21 game against London Welsh, and as well as the annual walk organisers are encouraging supporters to arrive at the game in as stylish a way as possible, and get themselves sponsored for doing so.
And as well as the BHF, Saints with Heart will be passing on some of the funds raised to the Leon Barwell Foundation.
“It’s time to ring a few changes and freshen things up, so this year we’re challenging people to find as many different and stylish ways of arriving at Franklin’s Gardens as possible,” said Paul Flatt from the Saints with Heart organising committee.
“Although we will have the standard walks as well, anything from three-legged racing teams, hog motorbikes, Penny Farthings, tractors and carts, any way that we can get people to get sponsorship and support our cause.
“You don’t have to do the walk; it’s about trying to get people to support your means of transport.”
Over the years Saints with Heart has welcomed supporters from many Aviva Premiership clubs, who have united behind the cause to help prevent the UK’s single biggest killer.
“It has mostly been Saints supporters,” Flatt added, “but over the years people from all over the country have taken part. It really shows the camaraderie of rugby. The people who have done the walk know the canal very well!
“It has more meaning for us with each passing year. We could have chosen to support more charities, but we chose to support the British Heart Foundation. There are some supporters who we miss very much, who died of heart attacks, and one of the things we feature on our website is why people do the walk, which is a very moving page.”
For more information about Saints with Heart visit www.saintswithheart.co.uk
For more information about the British Heart Foundation visit www.bhf.org.uk