Haven, the leading Irish charity working on the ground in Haiti, today hosted its seventh annual Six Nations rugby lunch, during which former Irish international rugby star Keith Wood was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Irish Rugby Award 2016. Former Irish back row Alan Quinlan was master of ceremonies for this event, which took place in Dublin’s InterContinental Hotel.
Also in attendance was former Irish Captain Paul O’Connell and broadcaster George Hook, who are both Ambassadors for the charity.
During Keith Wood’s illustrious international career, he stood as talisman for club, country and British and Irish Lions. He led the Irish team as captain on 36 occasions and was capped by Ireland 58 times. Keith holds the world record for the most number of tries scored by a hooker and was also the inaugural winner of the IRB World Player of the Year award in 2001. Retiring from the sport after the 2003 Rugby World Cup, he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014.
Speaking at the event, Haven Founder and Chairman, Leslie Buckley, said: “It is our privilege to celebrate the fantastic achievements of Keith Wood at the Haven Rugby Lunch today. Keith was not only a truly dynamic, impassioned player, but a born leader of men, and his influence as Captain of the Irish team was immense. Haven enjoys a very strong connection to rugby in Ireland, and I am delighted to celebrate that connection today, particularly with Haven Ambassadors Paul O’Connell and George Hook joining us.”
Also speaking at the event, former Captain of the Irish team, Paul O’Connell, said: “As both a Haven Ambassador and his former teammate, it is a real honour to be here today to see a genuine rugby hero, Keith Wood, presented with this award. Keith was the complete leader, and his unrelenting passion and perseverance made an incredible difference to the game of rugby in Ireland. He truly deserves this award today.”
All monies raised during this year’s Rugby Lunch will go towards supporting community development programs on the ground in Haiti. Haven’s projects and training courses are creating sustainable social enterprise, strengthening skills and education, and empowering families to live free from poverty. Since its establishment, Haven has:
- Facilitated the training of over 78,000 Haitian people
- Brought over 1,400 volunteers to Haiti to work on its projects
- Built or upgraded homes for over 19,800 people
- Directly employed over 1,200 Haitian people
Speaking on the importance of supporting ongoing work in the country, Mr Buckley added: “I will be calling on the incoming Government and the new Minister for Overseas Aid to commit more funding to Haiti. International Development is a long term process. It requires commitment, funding, focus and, most importantly, longevity.”