– Rugby youth internationalist was set to work at hotel-

A Perthshire hotel will use the untimely loss of an inspirational rugby-mad teenager to raise money for youth mental health charity BraveMind during the duration of the Rugby World Cup.

Issy Phipps, who planned to work a summer at McKays in Perthshire, sadly took her own life earlier this year

Issy Phipps was a 17 year old with the world literally at her feet (and in her hands) when she tragically took her own life in April this year.

An England touch rugby internationalist and European gold medal winner, Issy was popular with peers, a talented musician and student and planned to embark on an elite rugby programme.

The news of her passing in Spring came as a shock to everyone who knew her, including McKays Hotel Bar and Restaurant owner Richard Drummond, who had known her personally since early childhood.

A shared love of fun meant Richard and Issy enjoyed a connection and Issy had discussed working a season at McKays in Highland Perthshire; something which, sadly, never came to pass.

Now, after learning about the work of mental health charity BraveMind, which works with rugby clubs and schools to promote young peoples’ wellbeing, Richard and the McKays staff are to undertake a range of initiatives to support the charity’s mission during the World Cup in France.

BraveMind, founded by ex rugby player Simon Trower, is also supported by Issy’s parents, who want to help teenagers like Issy to navigate mental health challenges and reach their potential.

Issy’s mother Sarah recently met the Princess of Wales at Maidenhead Rugby Club, gifting her a pair of earrings in Issy’s memory, which Kate promised to wear.

“I first met Issy when she was 7. She was full of life and very talented,” said Richard, who attended the funeral celebration of her life, fulfilling the request to wear a rugby top by adorning a Scotland shirt.

“Issy had talked about doing a summer season at McKays because she also had relatives in Scotland. We actually met for breakfast about 2 years ago and she talked about her plans for the future.

“When I got the message of her passing, I struggled to believe it. It is only when you know someone, personally, that you wonder why. It leaves you numb.

“You see a beautiful young girl, a talented rugby player and musician with her life ahead of her.”

Issy Phipps, seen here in her Maidenhead RFC top, played youth level rugby for England, winning a European trophy in France.

The decision to raise money and awareness came to Richard, himself a father of three daughters, after he learned about the work of BraveMind.

Spurred by the memory of Issy, and in recognition of the stresses young people can face in the hospitality trade, he is delighted McKays will support the charity, with staff already raising £500 before the World Cup has even kicked off at Stade de France.

“Obviously there is a personal connection but it is such a good cause. BraveMind is geared around rugby but it is about young people and I know, in our sector, the pressures young people feel are sometimes underestimated.”

Staff will wear BraveMind t-shirts during all televised Scotland matches in McKays and are set to donate taking from Quiz nights, a race night and charity Dinner.

They also intend to reach out to rugby clubs in Perthshire to spread awareness of BraveMind which counts ex-Scotland internationalists, Graeme Morrison and Rory Lawson, as ambassadors.

The charity’s founder Simon Trower said: “We are about educating, supporting and working with grass-roots clubs and organisations to change the culture in order to prevent tragedies from happening. By using rugby as a vehicle, we can start conversations and it is great to work with McKays, who we will also be doing some training with, in mental health first aid.”


Image credits: Heartland Media and PR, all rights reserved

Header image caption: McKays owner Richard Drummond and staff will raise money for BraveMind, in Issy’s memory, during the Rugby World Cup.