Following a very successful year of sales of the RAF Spitfires 7s supporters’ shirt range, team management met Canterbury executives to discuss further development of the Spitfires brand.
Canterbury’s Richard Bradbury, who co-ordinates the company’s sponsorship of the Spitfires, invited Squadron Leader Tim Barlow (Director/Coach) and Flight Lieutenant’s Nick Monahan (Team Manager) and Nathan Jones (PR/Sponsorship Liaison) to a meeting at their HQ in Stockport.
The visit provided the opportunity to present the team with their new playing strips for the 2012 season, as well as other Canterbury training apparel, and to meet key personnel in order to discuss further brand development.
In particular, Canterbury have set about designing a range of leisurewear which will carry the RAF emblem and the Spitfires’ name. This extension of the Spitfires’ range follows the commercial success of their supporters’ shirts – approximately 4000 of the shirts, which come in 4 different designs, have been sold in sports stores and online so far. Given the £5 per sale that goes towards the RAF Benevolent Fund and Help for Heroes this represents nearly £20,000 to be shared by the two charities.
Included in the visit was an introduction by the CEO of Canterbury’s global operation Chris Stephenson, during which he put across that he was “very excited” by the brand’s success so far and it’s potential for the future. He later presented the Spitfires’ representatives with 2 framed Spitfire shirts, in honour of the strong relationship that has quickly grown between the team and their sponsors.
Canterbury were especially interested in the Spitfires’ charitable endeavours, as a company that looks for hands-on involvement with social change projects. They were particularly keen to investigate ways to support the Khelo Rugby project which has grown in Kolkata, India under parent charity Rugby Uncle. Khelo gets under-privileged children from the city’s deprived areas involved in rugby – in some cases this has led to participants being funded to play and study in the UK.
Of the day’s visit Sqn Ldr Barlow said “it has been great to come and meet the Canterbury personnel face-to-face and the day has been very constructive for us all. We are delighted with the association that has grown between us, allied with our sponsor Spitfire Ale, and are equally excited about some of the ideas that have sprung-up today”.
From the Spitfires’ contribution to the Khelo project sprang a close relationship with Zaffer Khan, an Afghani-born Indian who has been appointed coach of the Afghanistan national 7s team. His team are now set to play against the Wales team at the Spitfires’ forthcoming Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 7s, a charity tournament being held at Iffley Road, Oxford on Sat 26th May. The tournament aims to raise awareness and funds for the RAFBF, Khelo Rugby and also the RAF Ex-POW Association.
With the same aim, they are also hosting a Charity Dinner & Auction at the RAF Club, Piccadilly on Wed 30th May.