A young cancer patient and Gloucester Rugby fan yesterday joined Tesco staff and two first team players to launch the Tesco Charity of the Year partnership with the children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent and found out that he'll be the team's mascot this weekend.
Tesco have launched the partnership because they know what a difference £5 million could make.
Gloucester Rugby fan Alex Bayliss from Longlevens is 11 years old and is having treatment for a brain tumour that he's had since he was a baby. Alex's mum, Toni, knows first hand the importance of having a specialist nurse.
"Alex is undergoing chemotherapy at the moment but he has only four months left on a two-year course, so he's feeling very good about that," said Toni. "We've had a CLIC Sargent nurse from day one. Jane MacBean has been our CLIC Sargent nurse since Alex was three, and without her I just don't know how we'd have got through it all.
"She's the glue that holds everyone and everything together in this situation. Doctors seem to talk a different language to the rest of us and it can be very difficult to understand what's happening at times, but Jane has been our translator.
"It would be wonderful if everyone in our situation was able to benefit from a CLIC Sargent nurse like we have done."
"Alex loves all sport, but rugby is his favourite. He's a big Gloucester Rugby fan and is lucky enough to have a seat in the 1873 club enclosure, and he's also been playing rugby since he's started at St Thomas Rich's.
"In fact we have Jane to thank for that as well, because she was key to helping us find out from the experts exactly what Alex could or couldn't do, and thankfully they said he could start playing rugby, which he absolutely loves."
Luke Narraway and Greg Somerville of Gloucester Rugby, two of Alex's playing idols, were present at the event and Alex will also have the honour of leading the side out as their mascot at Sunday's LV= Cup Final against Northampton Saints.
The event will kick off a year of fundraising in Tesco stores, offices and distribution centres across the UK which aims to raise £5 million to fund specialist children's cancer nurses so that more children like Alex can spend more time at home and less time in hospital.
St Oswald's Road store manager Gareth Williams said:
"The money raised from the partnership will help local children with cancer spend more time at home. That's why all my staff are really excited about this partnership and keen to start fundraising!"
Tesco staff and customers will be raising money through a variety of fun and exciting events, ranging from sponsored sky dives and abseils to organising cake bakes and fancy dress days in store.
Donations will be made to the charity from the sale of certain products in store, while a contribution will be made every time a cash machine is used at Tesco. CLIC Sargent will also be holding a national collection outside Tesco stores later in the year.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).