POOLER great Eddie Butler gave an “entertaining and charismatic” speech at Pontypool Museum on Friday – as part of a bid to ensure the immediate survival of the local institution.
The former Pooler and Wales captain donated more than two hours of his time last week for free, with all proceeds going to Torfaen Museum Trust – of which he was made an honorary lifelong member.
Combining ticket prices for more than 80 people, including some who travelled from England, for the event, and a raffle, more than £1,100 was raised on the night. Five new members also signed up.
Mr Butler spent time reminiscing on the glory days of Pooler in the 70s and 80s when they were one of the most feared teams in Britain, and some insider details on what it was like to be part of the dressing room; before opening up the floor for a Q&A.
Speaking afterwards he said: “I have a huge investment in Pontypool. It represents memories and happy days for myself. It formed a hugely influential part of my life. You don’t hesitate when something so important comes calling.”
He also spoke about the plight of the current Pooler side, and how it contrasted from his time as a player in the area.
"There is not much left of what they call the community game, but I do believe efforts are being made to rejuvenate the grassroots side," he said. "Pooler is a great club, the bedrock of the town. That's how it should be, as with the museum. The regional rugby set up is here to stay but I believe Pooler does have a future as a nursery and producer of great rugby players.
"Given our history it is wrong that, currently, there is no place for Pooler at the big table."
The museum is battling a 20 per cent cut in its core funding from Torfaen council.
To combat the cash shortfall – which equated to around £19,000 – staff estimate they need around 1000 new members, alongside various fundraising efforts.
Museum fundraising officer Sassy Hicks thanked him for his generosity.
“He was entertaining, charismatic and a lot of fun, he is welcome back any time,” she said. “It was great to see so much local rugby support too.”
Pontypool Museum chair Ivor Davies MBE added: “Eddie agreeing to talk was a real coup for us and added some real prestige. A lot of people forget where they come from but not him. We are in stormy waters at the moment but he has really helped us.”
Raffle prizes were donated by the Welsh Rugby Union, Gilbert Rugby, and Ruck um Maul in Pontypool, among others.
Membership fees are £15 per year for an individual and £20 for a family. Corporate membership is £60 but features additional benefits.
Pontypool Museum can be contacted on 01495 752036.