A fund raising charity foundation to support grass roots rugby has been launched in memory of Sergeant Matt Ratana, the police officer shot dead while on duty at Croydon Custody Centre in September.
Ratana, 54 and born in New Zealand, had worked for the Metropolitan Police for nearly 30 years and was nearing retirement, but was also was a passionate rugby player and coach East Grinstead Rugby Club, where he was mentor to young players. He had also worked in Hackney.
The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation received over £100,000 over the weekend through public donations and was promoted by a range of television and sports stars, including Nick Knowles, Gabby and Kenny Logan and Piers Morgan.
The foundation will be able to raise funds to finance local training and exchange experiences for rugby clubs in New Zealand and improve the quality of equipment and facilities in clubs across the UK.
The launch took place online with a large audience getting involved with the foundation’s Matt Ratana Rugby Charity Challenge to inspire people to donate.
Across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, people uploaded images of themselves with a special Facebook Filter, and nominated 4 others to do the same using the 4 hashtags: #Donate4Matt, #Celebrate4Matt, #Try4Matt, and #Nominate4Matt.
In statement issued by the Foundation, Ratana’s partner Su Bushby said: “Matt believed that creating community was vital to individual growth and success. His work as a coach of all ages and as part of the police was a clear demonstration of this belief.”
Sean Morgan, the Director and Foundation Lead of the MRRF, as well as a rugby colleague and good friend of Ratana, told Eastlondonlines: “Matt had such a massive influence on so many young people when he was alive, and we were driven to try and ensure future generations enjoy that same level of energy and commitment.”
“Matt saw the positive impact on people’s physical and mental health through rugby and carrying it on in his name seems the least we can do for someone who gave so much for so many.”
In her tribute to Ratana at his funeral earlier this month, Commissioner of the Met Police, Cressida Dick, said: “He loved his work in safer neighbourhoods in Hackney Central, and south Norwood and in Croydon… Matt was the ultimate team player. His team, the public order team, the Met team. All the other teams. He loved them. Policing is all about teams and Matt knew that.”
Ratana 10k: Separate to the Foundation, the officer’s memory is also being commemorated through Ratana 10k , a virtual run completed over a period of 4 weeks, ending in the first week of December. It has been organised by Paul Hollis, a member of the Met Police athletic club who was moved by the Sergeant’s death and wanted to create an event in his honour. Antony Weller, head of communications for the Foundation and participant in the event, told ELL: “[Paul’s] had 1000 odd people sign up to do it…we are all damn glad he has done it.” People are taking part across the world, says Weller.
Ratana was also selected as Unsung Hero of the Year for the South East region on Monday. His nomination will be carried forward to the finals during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards later in December.