England rugby captain Sarah Hunter pays for free school meals at former school

Fiona Tomas
·3 min read
Sarah Hunter - GETTY IMAGES
Sarah Hunter - GETTY IMAGES

Sarah Hunter, the England rugby captain, has added her support to Marcus Rashford’s high-profile campaign to end child poverty after paying for free school meal vouchers at her former primary school.

Hunter has covered the cost of vouchers for every family entitled to them over the half-term holiday at Benton Dene Primary, a school in her hometown of North Shields in Newcastle.

It comes after a petition launched by Rashford calling on the Government to extend its provision for free school meals into the half-term break gained more than 890,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.

Benton Dene Primary thanked Hunter in a social media post on Facebook, which read: “Sarah Hunter MBE, who is a former pupil and captain of England’s women’s rugby union team, has been in touch to say that she would like to buy a voucher for all of our free school meal families.

“She said she wants to be able to give back to a school who gave her so much. We are so touched by this amazing act of kindness and hope you will all join us in saying a huge thank you for this selfless act.”

Hunter shared a similar post on Twitter, adding:

Reacting to Hunter’s kind-hearted gesture, the RFU said it was “proud” of the England captain.  

The 35-year-old's intervention comes less than 24 hours after England were crowned back-to-back Six Nations winners following France's 13-13 draw with Scotland in the competition, which resumed last weekend after it was halted by the pandemic back in March. 

Hunter will be looking to lead England to consecutive Grand Slams this Sunday, should they beat Italy in their only remaining match of the disrupted championship.

It is the latest selfless act by Hunter, who revealed in March she would be willing to take a pay cut “to make sure there’s still an RFU” in the wake of the financial uncertainty the body was facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

As one of the 28 players centrally contracted by the RFU, Hunter is believed to earn around £30,000 as a full-time professional.

Hunter’s intervention came on the same day that Olympic boxer Natasha Jonas also decided to offer food packages and free boxing sessions to families in her home area of Toxteth, Liverpool. 

Jonas, who was the UK's first female boxer to compete at London 2012 Games and relied on extra provisions such as free school meals growing up, has set up the sessions with her brother. 

She told the BBC she also wanted to "give back" to those who "stood together" to reopen gyms in the Liverpool city region last week after the area was placed under tier three Covid-19 restrictions.