Friday night’s victory over Catalans was made even more special for Rhinos fan Amy Williamson, who was invited to the match as Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s ‘guest of honour.’
The 23-year-old, who has learning disabilities, was recently left shaken after she was jostled and bullied by a group of teenage boys on her way home from the Leep Café in Swarcliffe, where she had attended an activity club.
Thankfully the attack was halted by a passing driver who confronted the group, but the abuse Amy received had left her very upset and scared to go out on her own.
After learning about the incident, chiefs from Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Rhinos Foundation decided show their support and reward Amy by inviting her as a special guest to Friday’s home game, along with family and friends from the café.
Dan Busfield, Head of Partnerships and Development at Leeds Rhinos Foundation, said: “We felt that Amy’s resilience should be rewarded and her friends at the café should come with her to the game. She has been incredibly brave.
“Our partners First Bus kindly provided transport for the whole group to come to the game and we hope it has been a fantastic experience for them all.”
“At the Foundation, we work closely with Leeds City Council in our restorative approach, so we would also be more than willing to work with the perpetrators of the bullying, to help them understand the effect it has on other people and hopefully stop it ever happening again.”
Amy’s favourite player Rhyse Martin was joined by Wellington Albert and Ava Seumanufagai at the Leep Café last week, helping to deliver match tickets to the whole group during a surprise visit.
As well as watching the game, Amy also enjoyed the chance to meet the rest of the Rhinos players and deliver the matchball to referee Robert Hicks ahead of kick off, receiving a standing ovation from all four sides of Emerald Headingley Stadium as she entered the pitch.
Amy’s mum Karen Horner, has since launched a Facebook campaign to combat anti-social behaviour called Keep Swarcliffe Safe.
Karen said: “Everyone has been brilliant since the incident and we know the police are still investigating.
“I am calling for a public space protection order in this area to prevent this sort of thing and to make people accountable for their behaviour.
“I have had enough, it’s time we did something about it. Amy should be able to feel safe to walk around without this happening.”