Shocked by the untimely loss of an inspirational rugby-mad teenager, Highland Perthshire bar and restaurant owner Richard Drummond has resolved to raise money for youth mental health charity BraveMind for the duration of the Rugby World Cup.
Issy Phipps was a 17-year-old with the world at her feet when she tragically took her own life in April this year. An England touch rugby internationalist and European gold medal winner, Issy was popular with her peers, a talented musician and student, had planned to embark on an elite rugby programme.
Mr Drummond had known her personally since early childhood, and Issy had discussed working a season at his Pitlochry business McKays – something which, sadly, never came to pass.
After learning about mental health charity BraveMind, which works with rugby clubs and schools to promote young peoples’ wellbeing, Richard and the McKays staff are undertaking a range of initiatives to support the charity’s mission during the World Cup in France.
“I first met Issy when she was 7 – she was full of life and very talented,” said Richard, who attended the funeral celebration of her life, fulfilling the request to wear a rugby top by adorning a Scotland shirt.
“Issy had talked about doing a summer season at McKays because she also had relatives in Scotland. We actually met for breakfast about two years ago and she talked about her plans for the future.
“When I got the message of her passing, I struggled to believe it. It is only when you know someone, personally, that you wonder why. You see a beautiful young girl, a talented rugby player and musician with her life ahead of her.”
Spurred by the memory of Issy, and in recognition of the stresses young people can face in the hospitality trade, he is delighted McKays will support the charity, with staff raising £500 before the World Cup had even kicked off at Stade de France.
“Obviously there is a personal connection but it is such a good cause. BraveMind is geared around rugby but it is about young people and I know, in our sector, the pressures young people feel are sometimes underestimated.”
Staff will wear BraveMind t-shirts during all televised Scotland matches in McKays and are set to donate taking from Quiz nights, a race night and charity Dinner.
They also intend to reach out to rugby clubs in Perthshire to spread awareness of BraveMind which counts ex-Scotland internationalists, Graeme Morrison and Rory Lawson, as ambassadors.