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Gin made in memory of Thurston rugby player Josh Gilbert

PUBLISHED: 17:40 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:39 02 May 2018

Distillery makes new gin in memory of Josh Gilbert, Thurston Rugby Club player who passed away last year. Left to right, Tim Blake and Paul Rayner. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Distillery makes new gin in memory of Josh Gilbert, Thurston Rugby Club player who passed away last year. Left to right, Tim Blake and Paul Rayner. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A Suffolk rugby club has made its own gin in honour of a popular player who died last year and will donate all the proceeds from sales to charity.

Distillery makes new gin in memory of Josh Gilbert, Thurston Rugby Club player who passed away last year. Picture: GREGG BROWNDistillery makes new gin in memory of Josh Gilbert, Thurston Rugby Club player who passed away last year. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Thurston Rangers Rugby Club will sell the specially-made drink at the club in memory of Josh Gilbert, who died during a match last September.

The 25-year-old, from Walsham-le-Willows, who was a keen Ipswich Town supporter, was playing for Thurston at Hadleigh when he collapsed.

The club has commissioned 70 bottles of the dry gin from The Stillery in Bury St Edmunds, which has been named Rangers on the Bridge.

The idea was the brainchild of Andrew Speed, president of Thurston Rugby Club, who funded the project.

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

He said: “I’ve always liked a gin and tonic and introduced it as a post-match drink many years ago.

“I knew the guys from The Stillery and got chatting how they make own-brand gin for companies.

“We thought it would be a great thing to do and the name is based on our club the Rangers, and the fact that we call the bar ‘The Bridge’.

“We’re selling it over the club bar and the proceeds will go to Josh’s charity.”

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 FAMILYJosh 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

Paul Rayner, co-owner, of The Stillery, a distillery and cocktail bar based in what was the upstairs room in the Snug Bar, said: “My accountancy company have sponsored the rugby club for years and I knew Andrew.

“He knows what we do and we got involved.”

Tim Blake, another one of the four owners of the business, which opened in October 2016, said: “Bury St Edmunds is the sort of place where lots of people know each other.

“Many people in the area knew Josh, and his death affected a lot of people.

“It seemed like a really good thing to do.”

Last month, Josh’s family spoke about how his organs have helped more than 25 people since his death.

His father, Howard Gilbert, said the family was “enormously proud” of his son’s decision to be an organ donor.

Josh’s corneas were donated to a 27-year-old man and a 21-year-old womanin the UK within a month of his death.

Speaking last month, Mr Gilbert said: “The word legacy gets used a lot, but it’s a particularly fine legacy.”

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