Selfless Saints star Tonga’uiha gives something back to his homeland

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While some of his Saints team-mates have headed to exotic climbs after being given the week off, Soane Tonga’uiha has been spending his time at a warehouse in rain-soaked Northampton.

Why? Well, it’s the culmination of a year and a half of hard work from the popular prop and his wife, Lucy.

Tonga’uiha, is in his testimonial season at Northampton, who he joined from Bedford Blues in 2006, and he is doing everything in his power to make it a profitable one.

But the money and goods are not going to the 31-year-old. Instead, he and Lucy have been working their socks off to raise cash for good causes and give something back.

As I walk into the warehouse where the Tonga’uihas, including Soane’s brother, London Welsh centre Hudson, and Samu Manoa are grafting it strikes me just how much is being given back.

Boxes of books, rugby shirts and other donated items, along with chairs and tables are being loaded into the back of a 40ft container ready to set out on a three-month journey across the seas to Tonga’uiha’s former home, the city of Vaini in Tonga.

The man himself had originally looked to use a container half the size, but such was the volume of goods he received from various sources, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near big enough.

“We originally wanted to help the school that I attended,” explains Tonga’uiha as he stands proudly alongside the precious cargo, “but through the generosity of Saints fans and the people of Northampton, we’ve managed to not only get the Vaini primary school, but other schools equipped.

“We’re so grateful for that and now we’ve had to swap a 20ft container for a 40ft container so we’re just so thankful.

“There are a lot of nice people in this world and I’m really grateful that the people of Northampton are behind me. The help has been amazing and I can’t thank people enough for that.”

Tonga’uiha was eager to namecheck those who put their time and effort into helping him gather the materials and those who donated kindly to the cause.

He talked of Weavers School in Wellingborough, who filled hundreds of shoe boxes, Church’s Shoes, who provided the boxes, Ray Brown, who let him store them in his warehouse and Janet Gregory, who donated thousands of books, as well as the army of Saints fans.

And Tonga’uiha made special mention of the work his other half had done behind the scenes to make it all possible.

He said: “The biggest thank you must go to my wife Lucy, who has worked day and night to fill up the shoe boxes.

“We’ve effectively done 520 boxes for the students in Vaini and I’m really grateful to Lucy for doing all this, with just my minor help now and then. Rugby has had to be my main focus so I’m thankful for what she’s done.

The Tonga’uihas and their four children, aged between one and six, will travel out to Tonga this summer to see the fruits of their labour.

And the Saints star can’t wait to witness what the donations will do for his old school and others in the area.

“It will help them massively,” he says. “We’re going to be over there to distribute all the stuff that’s in the containers and we’ll get loads of videos and pictures of it.

“It’s going to go a long way and hopefully steer them in the right direction for their careers and in the future.”

But before all that, Tonga’uiha will take his children away for a weekend at Centre Parcs. His selfless attitude, seemingly, knows no bounds.