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Eighteen youngsters from Sidmouth Rugby Football club are to say ‘au revoir’ to Exeter and ‘bonjour’ to Toulouse as they embark on a rugby tour after raising thousands of pounds to fund the trip.

The team of under 14’s, along with seven adults, will head to France at the beginning of April after spending the past nine months undertaking various fundraising activities to raise money to fund the trip for the children.

The club has raised nearly £8,000 through a number of fundraising initiatives including a raffle, car wash, BBQ and an afternoon tea. It has also benefitted from match funding after club volunteer, Peter Marchant, put in the request to his employer, Wales & West Utilities.

Peter, from Sidmouth, has been involved with the club for many years through playing and volunteering and his son, Jack, is one of the lucky tour participants. He has worked for Wales & West Utilities for over 26 years as a mains layer craftsman and said:

“As a club we want to give our youngsters the opportunity to experience a tour like this but understand how hard it can be for families to commit to the funds. We decided last year that we’d try and raise money through a series of initiatives but never in a million years did we think we’d raise so much – as you can imagine, we’re thrilled!

“Local people have been so generous in supporting our efforts and we are very grateful. On behalf of the Club I’d like to also thank Wales & West Utilities for their support in helping us reach, and exceed, our target.

“We are looking forward to giving our youngsters the opportunity to visit Toulouse and play against local French teams – it’s a fantastic experience that we’re all looking forward to.”

 The team will visit Toulouse from 8 – 11 April where they’ll play a number of matches against local sides as well as have the opportunity of experiencing one of the larger French regional games.

HR Director Sarah Hopkins from Wales & West Utilities added:

“We are committed to supporting the fundraising efforts of our colleagues and Peter and his committee have done a fantastic job in raising money to further the life experiences of local Sidmouth youngsters.

“Our match-funding contribution is seeking to make the money raised go further and we wish the team a great trip.”

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night. 

The company also has a multi-million pound, 30-year gas pipe replacement programme which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being replaced with new long-lasting plastic pipes with a lifespan of more than 80 years, to make sure homes and businesses continue to receive a safe and reliable gas supply now and in the future.