NEIL CONAGHAN stresses that partnering with Melrose Sevens is a natural fit for Borders-born, GoFibre.
The independent broadband provider will be the official platinum communications partners for the event for the second consecutive year in 2024. This time they will sponsor the festival of youth rugby on the Friday of Melrose Sevens weekend (12th April) which includes under-16 and under-18 tournaments featuring eight Border clubs, as well as games at under-13, under-14 and under-15 levels.
On top of that, GoFibre is also sponsoring the family food village which will run throughout the three-day weekend.
“In one way, it’s very straight forward in that we are a local business who can see the value of being in partnership with a great – iconic – event which is recognised across the region and beyond,” says Conaghan.
“The Borders is our heartland and so it was great to see, what seemed like every primary school child in the Borders running around in GoFibre beanies and sunglasses last Easter time during the competition.
“But there is a broader angle which is that we are a smallish business which competes in an environment dominated by massive players. So, for us to stand a chance, we need to do really embed ourselves within the local communities where we are building.
“We are present in the Borders, East Lothian, Fife, Angus and parts of Aberdeenshire, as well as the north of England, and our recently launched community fund – the GoFurther Fund – has allowed us to engage with a fantastic selection of charities and good causes looking to make an impact in their local communities. Our first round winners have been announced and we’re already looking forward to round two early next year.
“Although we’re also a part of promoting youth rugby in North Berwick, there are other community activities we do which have got nothing at all to do with rugby. We do all sorts of things ranging from developing skills and the local economy, helping create new jobs or opportunities, promoting good health and wellbeing, to contributing to Net Zero targets.
“While the Melrose partnership isn’t part of the ‘GoFurther Fund’, it is part of that same philosophy because we can see how important the event is to the local community, and the local economy.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 64)
It might not be the main driver behind the partnership, but the fact that Conaghan – who is based in south-west London and a season ticket holder at Harlequins – is a massive rugby fan is clearly an added bonus on a personal level.
“One thing that I think is brilliant about Melrose Sevens is that in the main draw you have teams of local guys, who might go training once or twice a week – and you know that because there are a few bellies on show – getting an opportunity to compete against the likes of the British Army team, the Monaco Impi’s and the Samurais, and they more than hold their own because they have played sevens all their life,” he says.
“It will be intriguing to see how Durham University do this year because they were brilliant in the pre-qualifying tournament which we sponsored last year [offering a £1,000 prize pot]. I’m really intrigued to see how a group of fresh-faced students do against a British Army team or whoever they are drawn against.
“We are all just mega enthusiastic about being part of the Melrose Sevens. Apart from anything else, it gives us a brilliant day out, brilliant exposure, and it helps when the sun is shining, like it was for most of last year’s event.
“We’re doing it for our own reasons, we are doing it for the community, and it is just great fun.”
Conaghan is just as passionate when asked to talk a bit more about GoFibre as a business.
“We have been going just over five years but, in reality, we’ve only had serious investment for the last couple of years,” he explains.
“The business started out offering wireless connectivity – wireless broadband – to people in very, very rural areas. But the real opportunity for a commercial business like ours is that rural Britain, and particularly rural Scotland, is underserved in terms of good connectivity, so that is why we are operating in the Borders.
“And when I say rural, I mean towns like Melrose, Galashiels and Hawick, as well as the properly rural areas around them.
“I’ll go on a bit of a rant now,” he continues. “The thing is, in 2023, if people don’t have access to good connectivity, they are to some extent cut off from the world, by that I mean healthcare service for elderly people, educational services for children and so on, and that’s just wrong.
“So, we’re in business to make a return for shareholders, but we’re also in business to do a good job for the people in the communities where we are active.
“What we are doing is important because some of the big players aren’t going to those more rural places we are going to.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 64)
- With GoFibre, customers can access speeds of between 100Mbps and 10Gbps, with standard pricing starting at £36 per month. Individuals and businesses can check availability and register their interest in full fibre broadband by visiting: gofibre.co.uk/check
- For more information on the GoFurther Fund, visit gofibre.co.uk/gofurtherfund