SPECIAL new pink benches aimed at encouraging people to open up about their mental health have been set up at a Penarth rugby club.

The Old Penarthians Rugby Club has become the first venue to have a 'Huddle Bench' installed by the Penarth-based Speakeasy Club to support World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, October 10.

Former Welsh Rugby Union players Lee Byrne and Phil Steele, along with Wales Women’s second row Gwen Crabb attended the launch.

Stephen Clarke, Chair of the Old Penarthians RFC said: “As a club, we are delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the venue for the first-ever Huddle Bench.

“As a club, we pride ourselves on being committed to inclusive rugby opportunities, and that extends to the wellbeing of our players and members on and off the pitch.”

Penarth Times: Simon Clarke, founder of Speakeasy & The Huddle with ex-rugby star and broadcaster Phil Steele. Picture:catrinhollelySimon Clarke, founder of Speakeasy & The Huddle with ex-rugby star and broadcaster Phil Steele. Picture:catrinhollely (Image: catrin hollely)Simon Clarke, Founder of Speakeasy Club & The Huddle, with ex-rugby star and broadcaster Phil Stelle. Picture: catrinhollely

Speakeasy Club and Huddle in Penarth aim to have a huddle bench in every community sports club in the world to enhance mental health.

Simon Clarke, founder of Speakeasy Club & The Huddle created the bright pink huddle benches to inspire people to take time out and talk more.

He said: “Sport has given me so much throughout my whole life, when I was struggling with my own mental illness the rugby club clubhouse was my safe space and almost a refuge from reality.

“We must make these places as accessible as possible for their communities and show our next generations the power of talking with each other.

“That’s what we aim to do through the Speakeasy Club and why I want to see brightly coloured benches across Wales.”

As well as being the first bench to be installed, Speakeasy club has partnered with Rugby Mental Health charity Looseheadz and is going to work with all 274 registered rugby clubs in Wales.

Angharad Collins, Head of places at Welsh Rugby who launched a new online platform called Dysgu WRU at Old Penarthians said: “Our rugby clubhouses are at the hearts of our communities throughout Wales.

“The first Huddle bench from Speakeasy at Old Penarthians signifies the importance of having a safe space to discuss mental health, and how vital our rugby clubhouses are to the community.

“We look forward to watching Speakeasy’s mission of getting a bench into every rugby club in Wales.”

The Huddle Bench will provide a place for people to sit and chat over a pint or a coffee with each one in speakeasy pink with the aim to show that being different is okay.

Rhys Lakin, Owner R&L Developments says: “We’re delighted to be working with Speakeasy Club to bring the Huddle Bench to life.

“Having been involved in community sport and particularly rugby my whole life, I know the importance of the clubhouses and bringing people together.

“It’s an exciting project and we’re 100 per cent behind supporting the ambition.”