A day of rugby was thoroughly enjoyed by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service' friends and family, when their Select XV rugby team played The International Legends at Exeter Chiefs grounds at Sandy Park, Exeter on a sunny day in March.
The International Legends are an invitational side and the team included former British Lions and international players who take part in tournaments all around the world.
The charity rugby match was played to raise funds for Eddie Forbes, a former firefighter from Plymouth, who has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, the incurable, life-shortening illness. Both teams lined up at the start to shake Eddie's hand as he wished them well, everyone was in great spirits.
Area Manager Alex Hanson said: "This was a fantastic opportunity for Rugby fans in the Southwest to see a select international side play at Sandy Park whilst supporting a very worthwhile cause for one of our firefighters who finds himself in the most difficult of circumstances."
John Mellor, Crew Manager for Greenbank, said: "In total 1,178 people came along to watch a game of rugby in aid of a great cause, held in glorious sunshine and I'd like to thank anyone who bought a ticket.
"Exeter Chiefs were the perfect hosts and although the International Legends side are in the 'twilight' of their career, they still managed to run us around with relative ease! I suppose you never lose it… they were gents, on and off the pitch and it was an honour and a privilege (if not a slightly painful one) to play against them!"
The final score was 49-19 to the Legends. International Legend Alan Bateman, a Welsh former rugby union and rugby league player, commented after the match: "We played the fire service today and got battered for most of the time! It was a very strenuous but fun game, everyone was in great spirits and it was for such a good cause; we were just happy to be involved."
Chris Snook, Sports & Social Association's secretary for the service, who led the auction and raffle, said: "It felt great to take part and help out on this fantastic occasion, so many people worked so hard to put this event together that it was no surprise that the day was such a phenomenal success. In total an excess of £12,500 was raised."
The auction and raffle alone rose over £1,500, which consisted of a range of items from signed Rugby shirts and balls from Cardiff, Harlequins, Bristol, and Toulon, a signed Newcastle shirt by Alan Shearer and a signed Everton FC ball as well as Brittany Ferry tickets. The highest bid of the day was £160 for the Saracens at Wembley package and Lee Howell the Chief Fire Officer won the bidding for the signed Lewis Moody autobiography. Eddie Forbes sent a text after the match to say: 'Thanks to everyone from myself and my family, obviously a lot of very hard work had gone into the day and the attendance was overwhelming. Personally it was a very humbling experience and I am very fortunate to have so much support from so many people, especially those I don't even know'.
Tim Mockridge from the Maritime School spoke about Eddie's present condition: "As time moves on, so the disease progresses... Eddie now finds it very hard to walk more than a couple of hundred meters at a time, and has to concentrate hard on each step, making it difficult to walk and talk. He also finds it difficult to turn quickly and is in danger of falling, so needs someone with him at all times.
"As for his spirit and the way he is facing the future, it is incredible and he is always outwardly cheerful and upbeat in short he has been inspirational.
"Work on Eddie's house is nearing completion, with over £30K raised and spent in the rebuilding of the kitchen, living room, a new bedroom, wet room, rear garden and patio, access, front drive and garden as well as carried out improvements to the electrical and heating system."
For more information visit www.dsfire.gov.uk
Posted April 20th, 2012 at 1220 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org