Joseph’s first port of call was Samujana, a luxury villa residence in Koh Samui. But that was followed with a week-long trip to Phuket where last Sunday (July 23) Joseph held a sports clinic for the children of the Barnhem Thai-Swedish Foundation in Muang Mai, Thalang.
Joseph was an integral part of the England rugby team in 2016, and scoring eight tries for the squad throughout the season, including a hat-trick against Italy during the team’s grand slam at the 2016 Six Nations, he was the leading try scorer for the side.
In addition, he also picked up the ‘Player’s Player of the Year’ award.
A true force to be reckoned with on the field, off it Joseph wants to encourage children to participate in sport, get fit and be active. And as one way of giving back to the community, Joseph, on a day when most tourists and locals would have been out enjoying the sunshine in paradise, he chose to spend his time with orphaned and disadvantaged children at Barnhem, teaching rugby, sports skills, team work, and generating endless laughter and awe from the impressionable youngsters.
But his support did not not end there. At the end of the event, Joseph donated five of his playing shirts, and a pair of shorts, all signed and authenticated, which will be auctioned to raise additional funds for the orphanage.
In addition to Joseph, members of the Phuket Vagabonds not only helped form a team of sports coaches to assist him, they also donated rugby balls, all of which Joseph signed as a memento of the day.
Established in February 2005 following the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the Barnhem Thai-Swedish Foundation initially focused on homing orphans and disadvantaged children who were victims of the disaster.
But today, it is home to over 30 children between five-18 years old who have either lost their parents or lack a family member to care for them.
But in addition to the sports clinic, Joseph also visited the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. The first ethical elephant tourism attraction in Phuket, the Sanctuary rescues old, tired, sick and disabled elephants from the tourism and logging industries.
Speaking to The Phuket News following the clinic, and in between different groups of the kids taking his attention, Joseph said, “What they have done for the kids here at Barnhem is absolutely amazing, the kids are happy and they’re fantastic and I’m glad that I could come here to add a little something.
“I haven’t been able to add anything dramatic to what they already have here, but just to be able to play with the kids and donate some kit has been a real pleasure. I have thoroughly enjoyed the day,” Joseph said.
But Joseph was already aware of Barnhem prior to his arrival in Phuket and he explained, “I was aware of the facility and what everybody does here so I’m really happy that I could come down here myself and see it all in person.”
Adding to Joseph’s comments, organiser of last Sunday’s activity, Natasha Eldred of Shine PR, said, “While we work with luxury clients like Samujana where Jonathan stayed, it’s important for us to showcase Thailand from the community perspective as well. We’re happy to help highlight the great work done by Barnhem, and are so grateful to Jonathan for inspiring Thai children to play sport.”
For full photo gallery of the event click here.