The Ian Williams Foundation

Safeguarding the heart of sport

Inspiration

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.  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.

Vision

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.

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 register your interest to stay informed and we will let you know as and when there are any formal or noteworthy developments.  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 using the contact form or email address below.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, thoughts or ideas for us at The Ian Williams Foundation please complete the contact form alongside or email us direct.

We will get back to you as soon as we can and welcome your interest.

Top