‘We want to give back to those who have given us so much’ - rugby players’ socially-distanced relay for hospital

Clockwise from top left: Joe Melvin, Elliot Gaywood, Rich Pearson and Kieran Cusker Picture: CONTRIB

Clockwise from top left: Joe Melvin, Elliot Gaywood, Rich Pearson and Kieran Cusker Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

What began as rugby players sharing their daily exercise on a WhatsApp group has escalated into a 180-mile socially-distanced relay to raise thousands of pounds for West Suffolk Hospital.

The guys at Thurston Rugby Club had taken up the ‘Run 5k, Donate £5’ challenge for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis and banter was “bouncing backwards and forwards” on their chat, Matt Ansell from the club said.

One of the players, Oliver Paxman, a previous first team captain, then came up with the idea of a socially-distanced relay in west Suffolk close to all their homes as a fundraiser and also to keep up with training.

Mr Ansell, sponsor secretary at the club, said: “It’s turned out to be 52 players and 180 miles of running. It’s quite a big thing and literally everyone has chipped in - players, families, supporters, sponsors.

“Everyone has put their hands in their pocket and more than 350 people have donated over £8,000. We are still aiming to get close to £10,000.”

The relay will start at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and finish at Thurston Rugby Club.

The relay will start at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and finish at Thurston Rugby Club. - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

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The ‘Thurston Rangers Rainbow Relay Run’ will begin outside West Suffolk Hospital at about 5am tomorrow morning, with Mr Paxman, from Bury, running the first leg.

The players will make their way across west Suffolk, as far as Thetford in the north, before finishing in the early hours of Sunday morning, with current first team captain Ed Ballam bringing the relay to a close at Thurston Rugby Club.

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Mr Ansell said each leg would be between 2.5 and four miles long, adding each player would not be out for more than an hour.

First team captain at Thurston Rugby Club, Ed Ballam, is doing the last leg Picture: CONTRIBUTED

First team captain at Thurston Rugby Club, Ed Ballam, is doing the last leg Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Also, to ensure they keep within government restrictions, there will be at least three or four metres between the incoming and outgoing runner.

The runners will make videos of the socially-distanced ‘exchange’, which will be uploaded onto social media.

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Mr Ansell said Thurston Rugby players were quite familiar with West Suffolk Hospital due to injuries on the pitch and it was really important to show their support at this time.

Oliver Paxman, who came up with the idea for the fundraiser, is starting it off Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Oliver Paxman, who came up with the idea for the fundraiser, is starting it off Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

On their JustGiving page the club said: “At a time when all NHS staff are working under such extreme pressure, we wanted to give back to those who how have given so much to us.”

To donate go to the JustGiving page here. There are also details on the club’s Facebook page and Instagram page - @thurstonrangers3.

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Thurston Rugby Club player Dan Evans on a training run Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Thurston Rugby Club player Dan Evans on a training run Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

 

 

 

 

Thurston Rugby Club player Derrick Dougan is also taking part Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Thurston Rugby Club player Derrick Dougan is also taking part Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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