Fundraiser for popular Suffolk rugby player raises £13,500
PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:40 30 January 2019
Organisers of a fundraiser held in memory of a popular Suffolk rugby player said it was "better than we could ever have imagined".
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.
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.
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.”
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.