Hearts + Balls appoint three new Board members

Hugh Dan McLennan, Struan Kerr-Liddell and Sandra Taylor will help in the drive to realise the mission of the charity’s former ambassador, the late Jim Taylor MBE. 

Hugh Dan MacLennan, Struan Kerr-Liddell and Sandra Taylor have joined the Hearts + Balls Board
Hugh Dan MacLennan, Struan Kerr-Liddell and Sandra Taylor have joined the Hearts + Balls Board

HEARTS + BALLS – a Scottish charity which supports rugby players who suffer life-changing injuries – have appointed three new Board members to help in the drive to realise the mission of the charity’s former ambassador, the late Jim Taylor MBE. 

Taylor – a former Kelvinside Academicals player who broke his neck in 1978 when a scrum collapsed during a game against Old Aloysians – passed away in December 2022. He was one of the most-loved pillars of the country’s rugby community, not least because of his indefatigable efforts to transform the lives of players who had shared similar experiences to him.

Now, a trio of Jim’s nearest and dearest – his wife, one of his closest friends and his mentee – have stepped up to help take the charity forward and continue his good work.


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Struan Kerr-Liddell will take on the mantle as the charity’s ambassador, leading on providing support and guidance to players who suffer life-changing injuries.

Initially, the charity was created as a result of the rugby community’s efforts to rally behind Struan, who broke his neck playing for Lismore Rugby Club in 1999. In the years since, Jim proved to be an invaluable support and mentor, while the charity has significantly widened its support.

Also joining the charity’s Board will be Jim’s wife of almost 30 years, Sandra Taylor, who has been heavily involved in Hearts & Balls since the beginning, working alongside Jim to support those who needed it.

At the same time Kenny Hamilton, who served the charity for more than a decade, will step down from his role as Chair .  During his time with the organisation, Hearts & Balls provided support to more than 30 players and their families with everything from carers to wheelchairs to vehicles.

BBC Alba’s former rugby commentator Hugh Dan MacLennan – who gave the eulogy at Jim’s funeral – is the new Chair, having retired from a 40-year sporting broadcasting career last year. He is best known as the former voice of Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium.

“You can’t replace a Jim Taylor”, said MacLennan. “What we must do is preserve his diligence, his aspirations, his passion and his warmth.

“We must work towards achieving everything that remarkable man stood for, and we must find a suitable way to mark his incredible contribution to Scottish Rugby.

“As he neared the end, he asked me to join the charity which was an honour in itself and I am now humbled to be asked to pick up from Kenny. I promised Jim I’d do my best to continue his good work. Making sure Hearts + Balls can support those within the rugby community who need it is the best way to pay tribute to Jim and preserve his legacy.

“I am proud to take on this new role at the same time as Sandra and Struan – they understand better than anyone why this charity is absolutely vital. With their valuable insight and input they will keep us aligned to our charity’s North Star:  to help rugby help its own.

“I’m stepping into big shoes replacing Kenny as chair – he has done a phenomenal job and achieved so much. The charity is in a fantastic place with a strong board, heightened awareness thanks to our women’s and men’s Hearts & Balls MB sevens teams and renewed vigour as we all look to do Jim proud. I look forward to working closely with the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation and Scottish Rugby to make sure everyone within our community who needs help gets the help they need. The rugby community needs to know we are here to help.”

 

 

Sandra Taylor commented: “Jim always liked to help injured players any way he could, particularly when it came to sharing knowledge from his own experience.

“We are indebted to the help we received over the years from Hearts + Balls. Having been involved in one way or another since the beginning, I’m looking forward to formalising my role and helping Hearts + Balls continue to be there as a vital support for those who need it.”

The charity has so far contributed more than £700,000 – as well as providing valuable advocacy, support and advice – to injured players. It also continues to support clubs to make accessibility improvements, from disabled toilets to access ramps and lifts.

Its Board is currently planning its 25th anniversary celebration fundraiser and on 17th April when it will host its first annual Jim Taylor MBE Golf Day at Glasgow Golf club.

To find out more about the charity and how you can support, visit heartsandballs.org.uk. 


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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

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