Weʼre raising £25,000 to contribute to causes close to Ian Michael Williams' heart, keeping his legacy alive and continuing his impact on the world.

Ian Michael Williams was a talented tight-head prop fulfilling his dream of being a professional rugby union player.  But sadly on 20th February 2018 he collapsed whilst training for English Championship club Doncaster Knights, and, despite the best efforts of his teammates and the emergency response team, he could not be resuscitated.  He was aged just 27.

Known as a gentle giant (unless you happened to be facing him in the pack!) Ian was well respected and liked by all of his teammates from his various clubs, and will always be remembered with much affection.

For those who may not have known him personally, he was very much more than the popular perception of the average prop forward – a talented musician and intelligent man with a keen interest in literature and history – but there is no doubt that rugby was his passion and his raison d'être. 

Starting as a mini at Havant on the south coast, he played in and with a variety of clubs throughout school and into adulthood.  His time at university afforded him the opportunity to be one of only two men to have played in BOTH the English and Welsh Varsity matches: playing in three for Swansea University against Cardiff at the Liberty and Millennium stadiums, before continuing his post-graduate studies at Oxford, where he quickly earned his first Dark Blue as part of the legendary pack that annihilated Cambridge in 2013.  He went on to score a try in the 2014 43-6 triumph, and helped seal the record number of wins in 2015.  He also represented Wales Students on more than one occasion.

His time studying at an end (for now!), he was determined to pursue rugby as a profession, and it was this dream he was realising when he died.

As we all try to adjust to his absence, we continue to be overwhelmed by the love and support from all corners of the globe.  It has become clear that to whatever degree people knew/had come across/or simply heard of Ian, he was - and is - recognised as a kind-hearted, driven and generous man.  

We feel it is both fitting and of some small comfort to establish something in Ian’s name that will not only commemorate his life, but also create a lasting legacy that recognises the impact he had on those around him.

Our vision for The Ian Williams Foundation is to move beyond this sadness and create an impactful vehicle for change.  Like Ian, we want his Foundation to be big, sporty, strong, compassionate, dynamic, driven and caring, to recognise potential in everyone and put them in the position to do and be their best.

We are grateful to be working with the Atlas Foundation whose support will allow us to develop and test our work under their charitable umbrella as we continue to formalise the development of The Ian Williams Foundation itself.  With your help we can make our vision a reality – your support is vital to our success and we thank you for your generosity.   

Our plan to SEE out this vision is to safeguard the heart of sport – and by that we mean the life, health and attitude of ‘the athlete’.  We are not trying to reinvent the wheel and are not restricting ourselves to absolute decisions about how The Foundation will practice for now - it will likely be working with established charities and other organisations where we can use our platform to further their impact.  But, we want to start by focussing on our ability to SEE (S-E-E) in rugby, which was Ian’s world: 

SCREEN

Campaigning to make cardiac screening available at all levels within rugby.  To raise awareness of the need for regular heart screening and enable it to be introduced as standard for players who are 16+ at all levels.  We are working with CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and St George’s Sports Cardiology department, and are in conversation with the RFU and WRU to ascertain who we can work with and how we can work facilitate/fund/promote these screenings.

ENCOURAGE

Shedding light on and destigmatizing mental health issues in sport by supporting open conversations amongst athletes to improve their mental health and wellbeing.  So often there is a hyper-masculinity that is expected within rugby in particular, and, as a result, an impact on the way in which players are willing (or rather not willing) to share or reveal mental stresses and strains.  We want to encourage real discussion and awareness of what each other are going through.  

ENABLE

Ian always believed in people’s potential and in striving for the best, and it was always his intention to use his own successes to facilitate opportunities for those less fortunate than himself.  We want to continue this conviction within the realm of rugby by opening doors for those with the potential to play, regardless of their background – though how that would look at this stage is not clear.

 

If you are interested in knowing more about our objectives or progress please do visit our website www.theianwilliamsfoundation.org and register your interest to stay informed so that we can let you know as and when there are any formal or noteworthy developments.  Alternatively, if you have any ideas about how we can achieve these objectives, or any fundraising ideas that you would like to discuss, please do get in touch.