On one of our recent special Tea and Tights podcast episodes we were able to welcome Andy and Dan from the UK based wrestling charity Wrestle Cares based in Hull, United Kingdom. Wrestle Cares was founded by Andy and his close friend Ash in 2019, both Andy and Ash are life long wrestling fans and wanted to bring the love of wrestling to help under privileged children by introducing them to real life Super Heroes that are Wrestling Superstars. Dan joined the team in 2020 and since then they’ve been growing both in reputation and in size adding more team members as they continue to expand including teaming up wrestling promotions such as Wrestle Carnival.
Andy, a wrestling fan from the late 70’s and early 80’s, he grew up watching British Wrestling in its heyday, watching the likes of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and Roller Ball Roco on TV, live at Hull City Hall and Madley Street Swimming Baths. Andy does continue to watch wrestling today mainly WWE and AEW and others such NJPW when he can find the time.
Dan on the other hand started watching wrestling in 2008 almost 13 years ago now, becoming a huge fan of Jeff Hardy after watching him face Randy Orton for the World Title the Royal Rumble 2008. Like Andy, Dan continues to watch wrestling, typically keeping up with both WWE as well as AEW and is still a fan of Jeff Hardy to this day.
Dan and Andy joined us on our show so they could to tell us all the about their Charity from it’s humble origins to what it is today, how they operate, how they work with other registered charities, who they look help and how they go about it.
Andy on how wrestle cares got started;
“My self and Ash became friends through shared beliefs and you know different activities that we do found that we both became wrestling fans very early on and just from listening to different people about good deeds, we wanted to try give something back and through our love of wrestling the little idea of Wrestle Cares was born, we started to just buy little bit of like wrestling figures, toys and books and merchandise, during Christmas 2019 I think we had about 12 or 13 shoeboxes together we gave to local kids who were disadvantaged and underprivileged, we just wanted to go on from there and see what else we could do. We met Dan at wrestling event, it was the Royal Rumble funnily enough, royal rumble evening we got chatting and we welcomed him on board.”
Currently Wrestle Cares is a non-cash based charity, currently working with 100% item only donations, Andy would explain to us why this is;
“I think because it was just a little idea at first just with the two of us, a couple friends and my son who has just come back on board and another lad, we were just buying bits out our pocket and then after attending a couple of wrestling events we went to one show and there about 900 people there and we thought if we can just tap in to about 10% of that and 90 people brought just one gift well that’s 90 gifts that’s a big chunk and it was just the way we wanted to go.”
Andy would note that they’re currently working toward becoming a registered charity and how they work along side other registered charities;
“We hopefully want to get registered status at some point something that were discussing behind the scenes as registered charity, working with other charities that we’ve done we’ve been piggybacking off them and at the time it just wasn’t the way to go and we’ve seen from just last years shoebox appeal the amount of donations we’ve had from wrestling fans across the nation has been phenomenal and if we can continue that this year and on ward we’ll be very happy with that.”
Dan would expand further on how Wrestle Cares work with these other charities highlighting their work with the Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University;
“In august of 2020 we all decided to choose specific charities, one being Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University, they deal with children in care which we thought was the best demographic to reach out to as when at Christmas time comes along it’s those who may not receive as many presents as a traditional family so we choose them and we also choose another charity within the same guide lines, that’s underprivileged children is what we’re working on at the minute, we obviously do want to branch out into difference aspects of giving back which we are scheduling and creating in 2021 its an exciting year for us all but at the minute we’re getting as much in for underprivileged children is our main objective myself Andy and Ash, we all share that love of wrestling from our childhoods we know what joy it brought us when we were children so we just wanted to pass that on to the next generation so we’re like bring these real life superheroes that jump into your life and change the whole aspect of your world and can be role models to children that may not have one.”
Andy would then tell us how Dan joined the team;
“2020 Rumble at a midnight showing at a pub it was all night job me and my partner were there we handing out business cards talking to the host and he gave us a shout out and we went over and introduced ourselves to Dan and then few days later and Dan gave us shout and wanted to see if their was anything he could do help.”
As part of discussions at the beginning of 2020 on how the Wrestle Care wanted to proceed moving forward, they looked to start working with local wrestling companies and promotions. including introducing arranged days out for underprivileged families to live wrestling shows and events. Unfortunately due to the effects of the Corona Virus causing a global pandemic, leading to lock downs across the UK it put a stop to these plans.
Andy on working on arranged day out plans;
“The ideas that we had at the beginning of last year was we bought tickets for a couple of local events for NGW (New Generation Wrestling in Hull) and had given them to one family but then unfortunately as you well aware covid happened the pandemic took over and everything got cancelled. We’d also done some work with charity over in Liverpool and we’d arranged for people to go over for a Love Wrestling event (Wrestling Convention in the UK) but again everything just completely fell by the wayside, we’ve got plans that we want to do companies that we want to try and get to and take children and families to but until everything opens up we’re in a little bit of limbo.”
However Wrestle Cares would not let the global pandemic deter them from their overall goal of helping families and children, continuing to organise shoe box toy drives.
Dan on shoe box appeals;
“We previously did our Christmas appeal which was huge success, thanks to everyone that donated to us we were able to safely satanise, clean and box them up sent off to specific charities but I think at the moment we’re only a small established organisation we are running on a seasonal basis we’re going to be working towards holidays like Easter, working towards the Summer period and back to the Christmas appeal again, obviously you can donate to us all year round some will be either our facebook page, twitter page, Instagram page and hopefully in a few weeks we will have our website up and ready to go so people can always reach us if you have any questions you come to us in regards to donations everything could be sent to us and well make sure its safely kept in our system so we can then track where it is and where its going and people can feel that comfort in donating to us to then distributing charities and Children that need them.”
Andy would elaborate further on the origins of their shoe box appeals;
“Initialy it was just a couple of friends and we we’re putting our hands in our own pockets to buy stuff so we thought about the Christmas shoes box appeal, between us we spent £50.00 each and it was getting the bits together but obviously its expanded we’ve been having discussions between ourselves and the other members about making it all year if we can start getting donations in anytime from now hopefully these other drives across Easter and summer and any other appeals that we’re going to try and do will be extremely successful.”
Andy on working with others to organise Toy Drives;
“We got contacted by a local, national supermarket and they did a community toy appeal for us and we went down and I collected every thing and there was a tiara”
Although they originally focussed on buying and collecting wrestling toys and merchandise, that is not all they focus on and they happy to accept other products suitable for all types of children, in particular educational toys, colouring books and reading books. As they have continued to grow and work closely with other charities they realised that some children may require toys with certain features.
Andy on how not all donations having to be wrestling related:
“Certainly something that our new trustees are heavily involved in, Dan’s partner Laura is a teacher and my partner anna is a parent governor for a school academy and what our hope is we can get into schools and provide Kids with books, colouring books and things a little bit more educational and I know some of the people I know that Dan has been speaking to people for the S.E.N (special educational needs) we can get involved in and discussions that we’ve got involved in been having behind the scenes you know if If your giving a child a present you know we love wrestling so if its wrestling based all the better but we do get a lot of other toys that we have we donated to a local women and children centre for their nursery.”
Dan would continue to elaborate;
“When we decided work with a local neurological charity called “TIC’s” who work with people with Tourettes syndrome and autism around our community we also looked at the monochromatic development advantages of our toys that we were providing and when that spun about we realised that these families who suffer with these kind of conditions also have little sisters, little brothers who may not be old enough to grasp the concept of wrestling I know its an all family sport in the stereo typical aspects of little girl liking Unicorns but we have tiaras, girly stuff that was there so we just wanted to make sure that every child that we’re reaching has a present so also the families can enjoy it together and we didn’t want to leave any body out”
Wrestle Cares has teamed up with the up and coming British Wrestling promotion Wrestle Carnival and having spoken with Gary Ward founder and promoter of Wrestle Carnival about teaming up with Wrestle Cares (Full Interview Here), I had chance to hear Wrestle Cares side of the story. Dan took the lead noting the he saw that Wrestle Carnival were brand new promotion and he thought it would be great to help establish a friendship with each other as they were growing, but admitting that it was Gary who ran with the opportunity coming up with an idea of Toy Drive where fans would bring toys to the show to donate.
Dan on teaming up with Wrestle Carnival;
“That was me I got in contact with Gary on facebook, when the Idea of wrestle Carnival came about I messaged him a couple of times because we were newly developed too and the concept of wrestle carnival we thought was very innovative and new something that the world of wrestling hadn’t seen, maybe debatable in the US where a lot of Carnival events and wrestling events, but the idea of wrestle carnival really took a hold especially since it reaches our demographic of children who also reach that demographic of people who go to the circus it all kind of felt right so I dropped Gary a message who was very nice when we first started speaking to him and more recently we discussed what we could do and it was his idea to do a toy drive where people will take a toy to an event to donate to us, which we’re very grateful for Gary for bringing that idea because we would have no idea what to do we would’ve just turned up, we just wanted to get our name out there we didn’t really expect anything of it to spread our name to spread our cause all across the UK so with Gary helping us out so much we couldn’t ask for more really there’s nothing else really need, well we need a lot from Gary when we get there cause we’re a bit muddled up with how it works but as soon as we get there we’ll set up a table and I’m sure our winning loving personalities will shine through.”
Andy would continue on about thanking those that have reached out to help;
“We’ve been contacted by so many great people over the last few months one of our biggest aims this year is to go out and meet people and say thank you, to say thank you in person I can’t say shake hands because you know we don’t know when that’ll come back but just to get out there and say thank you and if it means driving long hours then so be it.”
Despite a year of turmoil caused by the global health pandemic, Wrestle Cares have continued to “grow bringing new people on board to help them achieve their goals, they also used the year as an opportunity to look inwards coming up with new goals and creating plans on how to achieve these goals.”
Andy On bringing new people on board and future plans;
“This is something we’ve been discussing you know, we’ve all just done our own bio’s and we’ve just introduced two of our new members yesterday and today more coming out this week and I think all of our aims is for everybody we want to try and make Wrestle Cares as much as a success as possible right across the country and you know it’s a small island at the end of the day you know if we can reach out to everybody then it will be a job well done.”
Wrestle Cares have done great job at showing that wrestling fans care, turning passion into compassion they look to use their love of wrestling help others with the support other wrestling fans. You will be able to see the Wrestle Cares team at Wrestle Carnival’s debut show and don’t forget to bring a toy or two. You can also follow Wrestle Cares on all good social media apps via @WrestleCares where you will able to contact them if you would like to know how you can help.
You Can Hear the full interview below;
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