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Anita, Alex & Annabel Nicholson Memorial Fund Newsletter 2023

A huge thank you goes out to all the friends, family, donors, volunteers and Rugby Champions who have supported the Anita, Alex & Annabel Memorial Fund over the past four and a half years.

Whether it’s pulling on a rugby or cycling jersey or running/walking shoes, hopping in a canoe, supplying us with auction items or helping with our events, we cannot thank you enough. Every contribution makes a difference and helps us to help thousands of children across Asia.
We would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and the very best for 2024.

Ben, Rosie & The Anita, Alex & Annabel Nicholson Volunteer Committee

2023 Year in Review:

2023 has proved to be an exciting year for The Anita, Alex & Annabel Nicholson Memorial Fund with the ability to engage with existing projects, to develop new ideas and initiatives and plan for future fundraising events.  Here are the highlights from our 2023 activities and also a look ahead to what we have coming up!

Our Projects

Khelo Rugby

We are excited to have entered a new three-year funding contract with Khelo Rugby and Future Hope http://futurehope.net/. This allows us to build on the longevity of our relationship with Khelo and the great work they do.

At Khelo Rugby their passion for rugby meets their passion to improve the lives of the children that play with them.  They work within a community based structure and embrace the concept of nothing for us without us. The project supports thousands of children across multiple locations in India and has provided educational support and scholarships that have changed the lives of many children.

With their structural support and guidance, they have witnessed school graduation rates go from 18% to 85%.  We are excited to be part of the systematic change by providing scholarships as part of the funding to help both primary and secondary children as well as higher education for them.

Educational Pilot

We have been very excited to work with Studycat https://studycat.com/ to build on to the Khelo Rugby education programme.  The Studycat programme teaches the children English, a most valuable and transformational skill for these young children.  Khelo rugby educators have been trained by Studycat to run ‘pop-up’ classes using tablets supplied by the Memorial Fund.
Unfortunately, the initial pilot in Kolkata had to be suspended due to accommodation issues.  With nowhere to hold the classes it had to be suspended temporarily.  This did not dampen our enthusiasm for what is proving to be a continued success for these children.  Khelo took this opportunity to take the project to Sarawatipur which was always part of the development plan.

The data analysis for Sarawatipur identifies that 90 % of children’s accounts were used on a weekly basis with the average playing time ranging between 20 to 30 minutes per session.  The average correct score for each participant ranged between 76% to 87% holding an average of 81%.  During the data analysis it was identified that more work is needed on literacy and alphabet areas.  When discussed, it was exposed that this cohort of children have limited access to books and literature which may account for the data.  To address this issue Studycat have kindly donated their books in a PDF format, and, we plan to have them printed locally in India.

We need to provide 120 books to 30 children at £5 per book, if you would like to gift a book this Christmas please click the link: Gift a book to children at Khelo Rugby this Christmas! | The Atlas Foundation (theatlascharity.org)

We are hugely grateful to Studycat for their support! Studycat https://studycat.com/– is on a mission to inspire kids all over the world with a love of language learning. Their language apps aim to help children learn through fun and interactive game-play, resulting in happy, independent and lifelong learners. No boredom, no wasted time, just effective language acquisition.

Mixed Ability Rugby

Following the successful pilot in 2022, we have continued our focus in Singapore on support for children with intellectual and physical disabilities.   The Mixed Ability Rugby concept brings the joys and benefits of team sport to children who otherwise are not included.

The project has expanded in 2023 to include more participants.  We currently have three schools in the programme and have two more joining in 2024.

All schools consented to pre and post analysis of the programme, the overwhelming results showed that 91% of participants thought the programme was brilliant, along with this an overwhelming 73% of participants would be keen to continue with MAR outside of school.

Our goal is to transition the MAR programme into local rugby clubs so that we can have inter-club MAR games.

The project has been facilitated by Kidmando https://www.kidmando.com/.  Special thanks to Dulwich College (Singapore), APSN Tanglin Special school Singapore, The Guild International School Singapore for their continued support with this project.


Kampuchea Balopp

The KB team are continuing their excellent programme – bringing the joy of rugby to disadvantaged children across Cambodia.

In June, Rosie Chong and Julian Wallace (both Anita, Alex & Annabel Nicholson Volunteer Committee members) visited Kampuchea Balopp with families from the Tanglin Rugby Club, Singapore for a weekend visiting the various KB supported projects around Phnom Penh.  This included the Tanglin Rugby Club children joining training with the KB kids and then joining together in teams for a friendly tournament.  It was great see first hand the outstanding impact made by the KB initiative.

What shone through all of the sessions was the caring enthusiasm, energy and know-how from the KB educators and the unbridled enjoyment on view from the children.  These children have so little, but thanks to KB they now have rugby.  It was amazing to see the values of teamwork, respect for themselves and their team/class mates (and educators) shining through these children.

Special thanks to Nicolas Olivry and Benjamin Coignoux for making the visit happen.

We look forward to a long relationship with the team at Kampuchea Balopp.


We are currently in talks with a new project in Rangoon and look forward to sharing news of this in 2024!




After a few years of pandemic hibernation, many got the opportunity to dig out and dust off their tuxedos and ballgowns to join the Atlas Asia Pre Rugby World Cup Dinner at the Marina Bay Sands Ballroom on Friday 1st September – a week before the kick off the Rugby World Cup in France.

The event was supported by no less than five rugby Legends: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Dave Attwood, Matt Giteau, Andrew Mehrtens and Jordi Murphy.

The organising Committee were extremely grateful that our Rugby Legends helped with the live auction and engaged with the crowd to raise winning bids… and also for all the incredible items that were donated for the auction on the night ranging from Sports Memorabilia to unique experiences.

We managed to raise over $50,000 for the Atlas Asia Anita, Alex and Annabel Nicholson Memorial Fund.  Ben Nicholson and the event organising committee are extremely grateful for the generous support we received from the following sponsors: Crossroads, Hotlotz, St James’s Place Select Investors, Shangri-La Colombo and from all the participants.  They all made the event a great success.

Will you be game for a re-match before the Lions’ Australia tour event in 2025?  Look out for the announcement!



On 15 April 2023, Ben Nicholson, Tom Morrison, Pablo Diago, and Alasdair Walker completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in South Africa. A gruelling 56km (35 miles) run was made bearable by the spectacular views around the Cape Town peninsula. Consistently voted one of the world’s most beautiful races, the course includes gruelling climbs up Chapmans Peak and Constantia Nek. A total of £5115 was raised for the Memorial Fund.

Special Mentions

Dulwich College (Singapore) Sports Centre

This year, Dulwich College (Singapore) was delighted to name its Sports Centre in honour of the Nicholson family. Recognising the family’s love of sport, it seemed a fitting gesture marking their legacy here in Singapore, and at Alex and Annabel’s school. The complex takes the name of the Nicholson Sports Centre with Alex, Annabel, and Anita’s names featuring on the different sections. On Level 1 there is Alex Court 1 & 2 and the Anita Dance Studio, and on the Level 2, Annabel Court 1 & 2. Both Alex and Annabel enjoyed many happy memories in the Sports Centre (and of course on the rugby and football pitch) and we look forward to many students sharing happy memories on these courts in the years to come.

Ben and his sister Dawn visited the Nicholson Sports Centre in November 2023.