THE DAD of a murdered teenager from Reading has thanked the rugby community and Wooden Spoon for helping keep his son's name alive through sport.

Stuart Stephens was touched to know that the Olly Stephens Memorial Cup at Vets Fest 22 would continue to highlight his young son's love of rugby.

Olly, a happy teenager who regularly enjoyed watching live rugby, heartbreakingly died after being lured to a park by a teenage girl, where he was stabbed and killed by two boys waiting for him.

Vets Fest 2022 celebrated its second year at Moseley Rugby Football Club in Birmingham this weekend as over 700 players, from 16 men’s and 10 women’s Vets teams came together in a rugby tournament to raise £100,000 for vulnerable children and young people.

Winners of the men's tournament received a cup dedicated to Olly while winners of the women's tournament received the Molly Lawrence Memorial Cup, also named after a girl who tragically lost her life after developing sepsis in hospital.

Stephens, who was greeted by HRH, The Princess Royal on a day of rugby celebration, said: "We're honoured to be here.

“We've been following Wooden Spoon through my involvement with rugby and to actually have Olly's name on a cup and a thousand players playing today is quite outstanding.

"Rugby is the community. I would take Olly to rugby and London Irish so we used to go with a few friends.

"He would be immensely proud of this but the fact that his name's on the cup would embarrass him.

"It's great that he's remembered in this way. By helping to keep Olly's name alive, we're helping other parents of knife crime as well.

"We're not just doing this for Olly, we're doing this for every other child who's lost their life through a knife."

The funds raised will go towards helping vulnerable and disadvantaged children in local communities, using the platform of sport to bring people together for an important cause.

Olly’s dad praised Wooden Spoon for helping deliver help and opportunities to other young people, adding: "The days I would take him to see games were special days.

"Wooden Spoon do a fantastic amount of work and get a fantastic amount of money raised all through their work.

"We ourselves went through the autism process and it needs better handling through the school system and social services but without the support of groups like Wooden Spoon, we wouldn't have been able to understand Olly's condition, so it's vitally important."

Stephens commended Vets Fest for continuing such important work and using it to support others through rugby.

He said: "I think sport is critical in any child's life, regardless of the sport.

"It teaches you about teamwork, it breeds self-confidence, it breeds awareness of people around you.

"We know that money's going to go to very worthy causes and last year there were grown men in tears listening to the stories of how Wooden Spoon has helped.

"But that's how important it really is."

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