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Big Boot receives royal approval

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Welford Road hosted a royal edition of the Big Boot at half-time during the Aviva Premiership fixture between Leicester Tigers and Bath Rugby on Sunday.A team of 10 Church of England clergy took part with the backing of a capacity 24,000 crowd to help raise funds for Leicester Cathedral’s King Richard III Community Appeal and the CombatStress charity.   The Big Boot provides part of the half-time entertainment on Tigers matchdays, firing rugby balls high into the air and challenging competitors to make a clean catch.   Although the Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, was unable to join the team on the pitch, the Richard III Appeal team were able to claim one catch – by the Rev Jonathan Surridge from St Mary's, Hinckley – and enjoyed their opportunity to raise awareness and support for the Richard III Appeal and the reburying of the ‘Warrior King’ at Leicester Cathedral in March.   Among their 10-strong group were Tigers season ticket holders Father Alan Hawker and Reverend Pete Hobson, seeing life on the other side of the fence for a change.   After making his catch and acknowledging the support, Rev Surridge said: “All I was thinking about was the ball and not making a mistake. Then I heard the crowd. "I haven’t played rugby since my college days a long time ago but it was very exciting to take part. The catch may get a mention in a service soon!”   The King Richard III Community Appeal is a project for Leicester and Leicestershire which aims to raise £60,000 by the end of February. Half of the money will go to the CombatStress charity. The other 50% will contribute towards the costs of reburying King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral in March.   Thank you to all the supporters who made a donation to the appeal’s matchday collection or texted a donation.   There is still time to show your support. You can make a £5 donation by texting LEIC001 to 70970. The team have already shared memories of their Big Boot challenge on YouTube. Click here to watch the video.   The clergy team for Sunday’s Big Boot comprised: Reverend Adrian Jones: His motto is “little expertise but lots of enthusiasm’ or “small boots – big ambition!” Reverend Canon Rosy Fairhurst, Canon Chancellor of Leicester Cathedral: Rosy is aiming to catch the ball rather than fire it off, and hoping not to be a loose cannon. Father Alan Hawker, vicar in Narborough and Huncote: Season's Greetings to all my friends behind the posts in the Goldsmiths Stand. Father Herbert, Chaplain to the Filipino Community, Diocese of Leicester. His first time at a rugby match, but he says he’s ready to rumble and take that ball. Reverend Lisa Temperley-Barnes, Rector of Woodhouse Eaves, Woodhouse & Swithland: "I'm ready for action, just pass me that ball, for us female vicars will be the best of us all” Reverend Keith Magee, vicar of St Mary, Knighton, Leicester:  He used to play hooker – so don’t expect miracles! Reverend Hilary Surridge, Fenn Lanes Benefice: From Dadlington Parish where King Richard may have fallen in battle. Reverend Jonathan Surridge, St Mary's, Hinckley: Has not played rugby for 28 years and may not do so for another 28 years. Reverend Neil Griffiths from Coallville: Has come all the way from Coalville and has been practising hard for nearly a whole minute. Reverend Pete Hobson, Acting Canon Missioner, Leicester Cathedral and team captain: In charge of all the reinterment arrangements for Richard III - no pressure there, then.  He is here every home match but usually watching from Row B behind the posts in the Goldsmiths Stand.  Ten Facts about King Richard III He was the last King of England to die in battle – defeated by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. He was buried three days later in the Greyfriars Church, Leicester, next to St Martin’s Church which is now the Cathedral. Greyfriars monastery church was demolished in 1537 and the exact site of the grave lost to memory over the centuries. He was rediscovered in September 2012, in a dig sponsored by Philippa Langley and carried out by the University of Leicester. The University scientists are 99.996% certain that it really is him. DNA has proved it. He’ll be reburied in Leicester Cathedral on March 26, in a service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, it will be broadcast live on Channel 4. One third of all seats at the reburial service are available to the general public. More than 13,000 people from all over the world have expressed an interest in attending. The Cathedral has to raise £2.5million to cover all the costs of the reburial project. Most of this has already been raised. A Community Appeal was launched in November to raise £60,000 towards the total. Half of all money donated to the Community Appeal will go to the forces veterans’ charity Combat Stress, helping ex-service personnel suffering from PTSD and other similar conditions. You can find out more at the website www.kingrchardinleicester.com