Ground Force comes to life for ‘mum’ of Kettering Rugby Club

Some of the players with Jill (centre).
Some of the players with Jill (centre).

A Rothwell woman was given the surprise of her life when she returned home to find her garden had been given a makeover.

Jill Underwood, 64, retired from her role as a bar steward at Kettering Rugby Club earlier this year after 19 years.

The garden before the works were carried out.

The garden before the works were carried out.

Players saw her as the ‘mum’ of the club and, as a thank you for her dedication, decided to transform her garden.

But Jill, who lives in Glendon Road, had absolutely no idea it was going on while she was staying at her daughter Gemma Mitchell’s house.

Gemma said: “She hadn’t got a clue this was happening.

“It was amazing and really choked me and my sister Natalie.

The garden was given a complete transformation.

The garden was given a complete transformation.

“It makes us proud to be her daughters.”

In a scene akin to former BBC show Ground Force, about 30 veterans’ players and other club members descended on Jill’s house, which had an overgrown garden.

But in just one day the team, led by veterans’ captain and site ‘foreman’ Graham Wilson, laid new paths, decking, fencing, garden furniture and more.

Director of rugby Doug Bridgeman said: “You can tell by what everybody did just how they felt about her.

New paths were laid.

New paths were laid.

“She was the mother of the club.

“Everybody thought the world of her and 19 years is a long old time to work in one place.

“Rugby has always been a male-dominated arena and she kept everybody in check.”

Mr Bridgeman thanked neighbours for allowing them to stack fencing and other items in their gardens, making their day’s work easier.

The garden was originally overgrown.

The garden was originally overgrown.

Jill would often take players into town on a Saturday night.

She has been instrumental in the club’s efforts in raising £17,000 towards a disabled lift at the club, with some of the funds coming through her infamous swear jar.

Chairman Lennie Newman: “It just shows the brilliant spirit within the club and respect for a long-standing servant.”

The garden was given a complete transformation.

The garden was given a complete transformation.