With the British Basketball League season suspended indefinitely, Plymouth Raiders are using their time off-court to help out by delivering local produce in and around the Tamar Valley area, writes Tom Howe.
Director Richard Mollard and a number of his Raiders compatriots have been lending their time to non-profit community interest group Tamar Grow Local, following a surge in demand for their fresh home delivered goods in light of the lockdown imposed by the government due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Mollard, who also sits on the board of the Callington-based venture, told The Independent that the club had been encouraging their furloughed staff to follow-up their interest in helping around the community.
At one stage, a team including Raiders’ general manager Heather Nash and her husband, as well as Mollard, foundation coach Ben Fox and forward Will Neighbour, were delivering 300 bags of produce – the majority of which was grown within 20 miles of the Tamar Valley – over a 48 period.
“Obviously there is very little we can do for the club itself and we have only kept a skeleton staff,” said Mollard. “What we have done is encourage anyone who wants to get involved in helping around the community to do so. Heather, our general manager, her husband Gaz, Ben Fox, our apprentice coach, myself and Will have been working with Tamar Grow Local and helping with deliveries.
“One of the Tamar Grow Local services is the Tamar Valley Food Hub which provides marsh gardeners and small producers in the area an outlet for their goods. Most of the money goes back into their pockets as they keep 85 per cent which is a lot better than you would imagine. We were looking at what we could do and one thing that was pretty obvious was that we had a van and I have a Land Rover.
“Will and I go out and do one trip around the city and the others will go out and do another route. It has worked really well. The most we had ever taken was about 120 bags just before Christmas. The week before lockdown we took just over 130 and the week of lockdown we had to stop taking orders at 300.
“We have capped it at around 200 now. The site is going live for a couple of hours and selling out. On Thursdays and Fridays we are delivering part of ‘New Home, New You’ and ‘Grow, Share, Cook’ which are programmes that provide food in conjunction with Plymouth Community Homes and Plymouth City Council.”
BAU Global director Enver Yucel – who purchased a majority shareholding in the Raiders two months ago – and his colleagues have also been donating food into areas around their native Istanbul and further afield too, with plans to provide personal protection equipment (PPE) to key workers in Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Raiders’ charitable arm, the 83 Foundation, are aiming to raise £500 to help deliver community programmes with representatives Nash, Emilie Perring, Steve Warren and Nicholas Valerio each committing to run 100 miles in April. For more information, or to donate, search Raiders 83 at www.justgiving.com.