The Charity Polo Tournament returned to St Andrews in spectacular fashion with their first event since 2019. Following two consecutive years of cancelled events, the committee’s excitement to return to their fundraising efforts was evident in the day’s atmosphere.
The Charity Polo Tournament focuses its fundraising efforts on Help For Heros. This charity provides support to British Armed Forces service personnel who have been wounded or injured in the line of duty and to their families.
Since 2007, Help for Heroes has transformed the lives of over 26,500 wounded veterans and their families. Receiving no government funding, Help for Heroes relies on the benevolence of their organisational partners and the general public. Past tournaments have raised over £9,000 in funds for Help for Heros.
This year, in particular, the committee has committed to focusing on the charity aspect of their work. Several successful smaller events last semester kicked off their campaign. Four committee members ran a half marathon in the autumn and raised over £1000 for wounded veterans and their families.
The highlight of last semester’s events for the committee was undoubtedly their Remembrance Day event. Combining a Sunday Service and Beach Polo Tournament, the November 14th celebration fell on the nationally recognised day of remembrance for fallen soldiers in war. During the day, members of the committee met with some of the veterans, their fundraising efforts help. Undoubtedly a powerful moment for all attending; it is clear that this has pushed the committee to redouble their efforts this semester.
With a clear vision of the launch event set many months ago, there were concerns that covid restrictions may force the committee to cancel yet another event.
However, luck shined upon the event as restrictions on outdoor events were loosened in time. Originally intended as an indoor ‘Barn Bash’, the committee swiftly shifted part of the event outside to take advantage of the restriction changes.
Fallside Mill was the perfect venue for a polo launch event. The scenic surroundings mimicked the country views of traditional polo pitches. While a marquee and heaters provided some rest bite from the seasonably cold January weather, the miracle was avoiding rain at an outdoor event so early in the year. Inside, attendees were treated to a live band and ceilidh to complete the Barn Bash concept.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of the day was the mechanical bull. Drawing attendees to try their luck, the bull was fun for riders and spectators alike. The bull provided a break from the somewhat monotonous provision of music, a dancefloor, and drinks at student events. It is aspects like this that set certain events in St Andrews apart. The polo committee executed their vision admirably, and if this is any indication of the main event later in the semester, it will be a sure sell-out.
The main event of the semester, The Charity Polo Tournament, will take place on April 16th. This date sits between the two revision weeks of the semester and will give us all an opportunity to relax during a stressful part of the year. For those unfamiliar with the tournament, it is an event unlike any other in the St Andrews lineup.
Starting the day at noon, attendees are bussed to Errol Park, north of the Tay River. There are three separate sections that ticket holders can access depending on their category choice: garden party, VIP, or standard. No matter your ticket, every attendee has access to a range of food vendors throughout the afternoon.
However, the highlight of the main event is the polo tournament itself. While some attendees prefer to spend the afternoon relaxing, others will find themselves drawn to the sport they love or else fascinated by a sport they have never seen before.
Attendees get involved every few chukkas by going on to the field and stamping down divots created by the horses. St Andrews students will not be the only attendees. Polo teams from across Scotland and the rest of the UK participate in the tournament.
If attendees wish to capture the day, you will find that the polo tournament is perhaps the most photographed event of the year. Surpassing all event photo props and backgrounds so far this year is a giant wooden horse that attendees can straddle or stand beside for photographs. The photo prop will not be the only additional activity for attendees. Just as the committee provided a surprise mechanical bull at the launch this past weekend, we can expect such a level of surprises in April.
We must applaud the Charity Polo Committee for its work this year. While other events and committees work with charity partners and donate the proceeds of their events to good causes, the polo committee seems almost singularly driven in its fundraising efforts. Organising an enjoyable and uniquely memorable event has always been a key part of the tournament. However, this year’s committee has pushed past the bounds of past April events to accomplish as much fundraising and fun as possible during their tenure.
Many students in St Andrews have not yet had the opportunity to attend the Charity Polo Tournament. Keep your eyes out for tickets; they will sell out quickly. If you chose any event this semester, this should be it.