Iconic sports venues across England and Wales were renamed for 24 hours this week to honour grassroots sport community workers and volunteers who, with the support of National Lottery funding, have gone above and beyond during lockdown. 

The home of England Rugby, Twickenham Stadium, was renamed The O’Brien Palmer Williams Twickenham Stadium, celebrating Lucy O’Brien, Breeze Palmer, and Matt Williams of Avonmouth Old Boys RFC Ladies team. The trio worked with a group of volunteers to deliver essentials supplies, food and even flowers to those shielding at home, the vulnerable, those in care homes and those on the frontline during the pandemic, including NHS hospital staff and the fire brigade.

Other venues to change names this week were The Kia Oval, The Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake, Paula Radcliffe Athletics Track, The Geraint Thomas Velodrome in Wales and The National Outdoor Centre in Wales.

Breeze, 37, is a parent and current player, Lucy, 42 is a player, coach, safeguarding officer and junior vice chairman, while Matt, 34, is a groundsman for the club and his nieces and nephews, sisters and family all play at Old Boys. 

The venue name changes and the special dedications are taking place following the findings of a new UK wide study commissioned by The National Lottery, which shows that almost half (44 percent) of adults believe 2020 should be the year we celebrate everyday sporting heroes as much as elite athletes and two out of three people (67 percent) say the pandemic has increased their love of sports and being active.

It is an honour, I've been buzzing all week since we first found out we would be recognised. My family are really proud, and I'm proud of everything that we've done. Everyone from the club has just been brilliant,” said Matt.

Lucy added: "Twickenham is my most favourite place in the universe. It is really honouring to think that The National Lottery has done this for us.

“We didn't do all of this to get anything – people are really proud of us and it's amazing.”

Breeze said: "You know when you see things on TV and they say you've got to be in it to win it? You sit there and think it doesn't happen – and this has shown that it is true.

"For a small place like us, and our little club, to be picked up and recognised is huge - we're never usually that lucky.

"It's not just about it being us three. There are lots of other people deserving this recognition, and it shows that it does happen.

"It's nice to know that normal people, who love rugby, can achieve and make things happen. It's amazing, so hard to put into words.”

The trio and their group of volunteers initially started by setting and sorting hampers in one player’s living room but the operation spread quickly and now they are operating out of a local community hall. The leaders of the group include a care worker and home-schooling mums and the whole community is benefitting from their efforts.

"Without National Lottery funding, none of this would have been possible,” said Lucy. We could have never expanded, we wouldn't have been able to have our ladies team or as many juniors as we do now. In turn, that has helped us be there now for people.

"Without people buying the National Lottery tickets, this would never have happened and that's quite strange to think about.” 

Dame Katherine Grainger, UK Sport Chair said, “It’s fantastic that sports across the nations have been able to come together to celebrate grassroots champions who have gone above and beyond this year. Around £30m a week is raised for good causes across the UK by people playing The National Lottery, and has helped sport at all levels, from the smallest rowing club to helping athletes prepare for the Tokyo Olympics next year.”