#TicketForward: Volunteer Northampton Saints mascot gets deserved reward
Philip Mak - November 06, 2019

#TicketForward: Volunteer Northampton Saints mascot gets deserved reward

Liam Welch has given so much, now his team is giving him something back

Bernie the Mascot Northampton Saints

Liam Welch is a mascot that makes a big difference for small fans — #TicketForward and Northampton Saints are giving him the recognition and reward he deserves.

It’s those particularly intense tackles or watching a favourite player get in the maul that keeps most rugby buffs scrumming back for more. For the Northampton Saints’ smallest supporters though, it’s Bernie the Mascot that gets them excited to go to Franklin’s Gardens. And underneath all that fur is one of the most passionate fans of all, Liam Welch.

Liam Walsh as Northampton Saints Bernie the Mascot

For the last dozen years, Liam has volunteered to play Bernie the Mascot at every Northampton Saints home game — selflessly giving his time, rain or shine. (Given that it’s the Midlands, we’d guess it was more ‘rain.’) He’s only missed one game since he started, and that was for his own wedding. 

“The thing I love most about being Bernie is just seeing a child’s face — on many occasions, they’re here to watch Bernie rather than to actually watch the game,” Welch tells us.

Since Liam has been so dedicated to making unforgettable live experiences for fans of all ages, his mates and colleagues at the Northampton Saints decided to surprise him with one in kind. To play it forward, the sports team nominated him for StubHub’s #TicketForward program.

Northampton Saints Connor Fleming shakes Liam Walsh's hand

Connor Fleming, the Northampton Saints’ Head of Community, said: “Liam’s been a heavy part of the club for the last 12 years. He’s volunteered his time every match to come and cheer the crowd up.”

On behalf of the team and StubHub, Connor presented Liam with a certificate to use on a live event of his choosing. Now that’s something worth cheering for, wouldn’t you say? Keep reading to learn more about #TicketForward and how you can nominate someone you reckon is deserving of a live event too. 

What is #TicketForward?

Launched earlier this year, StubHub #TicketForward rewards amazing people through live event experiences. The initiative acknowledges those who are going above and beyond to help others, have endured difficult circumstances or are simply inspirational. In the US, UK and Spain, StubHub also partnered with the Make a Wish Foundation to grant life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses.

"We’re creating an opportunity for inspiring individuals to be acknowledged and appreciated by those whose lives they’ve touched," said StubHub CFO Greg Mrva.

We know better than most that live events can change lives — not only by making people happier, but healthier. Studies have shown they can increase feelings of wellbeing by 21%, add over 9 years to lifespans and spike joy by more than 83%.

#TicketForward was previously piloted among StubHub employees and resulted in 150-plus grants — including a woman who lost her home in the California wildfires and an individual who opened a boxing gym for underprivileged youth in his community. Recipients are selected by a rotating panel of employees.

How to Make A #TicketForward Nomination

Want to pay it forward? Nominate someone who inspires you for a live experience with #TicketForward at: StubHub.com/TicketForward