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Fundraiser for popular Suffolk rugby player raises £13,500

PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:40 30 January 2019

Josh at the Bury St Edmunds Young Farmers Club's 50th Anniversary Ball at Thurston RUFC in 2016. He was chairman of the club at the time and was collecting money for the raffle. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Josh at the Bury St Edmunds Young Farmers Club's 50th Anniversary Ball at Thurston RUFC in 2016. He was chairman of the club at the time and was collecting money for the raffle. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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Organisers of a fundraiser held in memory of a popular Suffolk rugby player said it was “better than we could ever have imagined”.

More than £13,500 was donated to Heart UK thanks to the fundraiser Picture: HEART UKMore than £13,500 was donated to Heart UK thanks to the fundraiser Picture: HEART UK

The gala dinner and auction for Josh Gilbert, who tragically collapsed and died during a match in September, 2017, raised more than £13,500 for charity.

The popular 25-year-old, from Walsham-le-Willows, who was chairman of Bury Young Farmers’ Club, was a keen sportsman and played for Thurston Rugby Club and Walsham-le-Willows Cricket Club.

His death inspired the Suffolk Young Farmers, Thurston Rugby Club and Walsham-le-Willows Sports Club to organise the event, with money raised going to Heart UK – The Cholesterol Charity.

MORE: ‘True son of Suffolk’ Josh Gilbert touched lives of so many

The event was attended by more than 300 people and prizes for the auction – which raised £7,000 – included two pairs of RBS Six Nations tickets and ground works machinery.

Josh pictured with his friend Ed Ford. Picture: ED FORDJosh pictured with his friend Ed Ford. Picture: ED FORD

Tory Lugsden, organiser, said: “The event was beyond our wildest dreams and better than we could ever have imagined.

“We were so shocked and saddened by what happened to Josh, that we wanted to do something in his memory and to celebrate his life.

“It is a testament to Josh that so many local businesses generously supported the event, which meant that all of our costs were covered before the event even started.”

MORE: Family of Thurston rugby player Josh Gilbert ‘enormously proud’ of son’s decision to be an organ donor

Josh had been diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited form of very high cholesterol, when he was 12.

Ipswich Town fan Josh was a season ticket holder for 19 years - he is pictured here with former Town star Tommy Smith at the Newcastle away game in 2016 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYIpswich Town fan Josh was a season ticket holder for 19 years - he is pictured here with former Town star Tommy Smith at the Newcastle away game in 2016 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

FH is an inherited condition that leads to exceptionally high cholesterol levels and may affect up to one in 250 people in the UK.

Jules Payne, from Heart UK, was presented with a cheque on Saturday, January 26, by Josh’s dad Howard Gilbert.

Mr Payne said: “We are delighted and very grateful to the Gilbert family for their support and for all the organisations involved for organising the fundraiser.

“They have raised a fantastic amount, which will help us continue our ground-breaking work to raise awareness of the risks associated with high cholesterol and FH, and support families who have been affected by FH.”

Gin in memory of Josh Gilbert was made last year Picture: GREGG BROWNGin in memory of Josh Gilbert was made last year Picture: GREGG BROWN

Thurston Rugby Club also made 70 bottles of its own gin in honour of Josh last year and donated all the proceeds from sales to charity.

MORE: Gin made in memory of Thurston rugby player Josh Gilbert

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