“Inspirational” Birmingham logistics boss helps community rugby club secure national award.
A Midlands businessman and former Erdington RFC player has been praised for his “inspirational” and “instrumental” involvement in helping the club rise from the ashes to secure a prestigious national award.
Paul Eyles (pictured), the managing director of Birmingham-based PGS Global Logistics, a member of the Pal-let-Track network, was singled out for attention after the club became the inaugural winner of Gallagher’s Rugby Club of the Season competition following a nationwide search and public and panel voting process.
Erdington emerged as the ultimate winner due to the club’s outstanding community engagement and its success in introducing rugby to inner city children with life-changing consequences, which according to the judges provided a rich narrative of rebirth from adversity.
Out of a strong field of more than 100 clubs, Erdington was recognised for the club’s Changing Lives Through Rugby initiative, a programme that provides volunteer outreach support to local po-lice on the streets of North Birmingham and offers coaching in local schools in some of the UK’s most underprivileged communities, in order to engage young people at risk of being involved in knife crime. The club received the award from former England Rugby international, Harlequins legend and Gallagher ambassador Ugo Monye.
This impressive achievement comes four short years after the club began re-building itself, having been forced to close in 2003 when a major fire burnt down its clubhouse. It is a feat only achieved with the generous support of Mr Eyles, according to former player and friend Andy Trueman, Erdington RFC’s community officer, who reached out for assistance at the club’s time of need.
“Paul has been inspirational and instrumental in Erdington receiving this award,” said Andy. “He has ploughed his own time and resources into the club since we decided to reform in 2016.
“In the first year when we were still playing at Holly Lane, he paid the ground fees and sponsored the kit for the first season. The next year, we decided to move back to Spring Lane, but because we had no clubhouse Paul helped towards kitting out a double-decker bus as a changing facility. He has continued to help financially with pitch and licensing fees and in 2018, when we decided to provide free places for Erdington youngsters who couldn’t afford the monthly fees, Paul plugged the lost income out of his own pocket.
“Paul has also taken the youngsters on the bus to the Ricoh Arena to watch Wasps play and recently acquired a minibus for the club – these are things we are all grateful for. He doesn’t do it for personal glory, but for the buzz he still gets out of the game and also helping other people in the community.”
Paul, a former front row at Erdington who has become the honorary president of the club, said: “Achieving this award is fantastic for the club and the community, which is in one of the most deprived areas in the country. I am proud to have be associated with Erdington over many years both on and off the pitch and seeing first-hand how far a little help can go in helping to restore pride and confidence in this great club, as well as giving young people a renewed focus and purpose.”
For more information on Erdington RFC and its Changing Lives Through Rugby campaign, visit erfc.uk.