Club goes the ex­tra miles in char­ity trib­ute

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ

HOSPI­TAL bosses have con­grat­u­lated South­port Rugby Club play­ers and fans who trav­elled vir­tu­ally around the world twice in mem­ory of their late pres­i­dent, Gra­ham El­lis.

The in­trepid team raised more than £35,000 for South­port and Orm­skirk Hos­pi­tals Char­ity by com­plet­ing their El­lis Ex­pe­di­tion.

The chal­lenge be­gan Gra­ham, who was mar­ried to wife, Anne, and fa­ther of Hugh, Me­gan and Jack, had been told that he was not be­ing put for­ward for the liver trans­plant he needed and was in­stead given just a few months left to live.

For the past few years Gra­ham, a suc­cess­ful char­tered sur­veyor, has been among fig­ures who have driven for­ward trans­for­ma­tional changes at South­port Rugby Foot­ball Club both on and off the pitch.

He was al­ways a very jovial fig­ure at Water­loo Road, ready to greet ev­ery vis­i­tor with a huge smile, al­ways very en­cour­ag­ing to play­ers of all age groups.

He gained most en­joy­ment from watch­ing tal­ented young play­ers de­vel­op­ing through the var­i­ous age groups and into the first XV.

His death in June prompted a huge turnout for his funeral, with a guard of hon­our formed by play­ers.

Through­out July, thanks to an idea by player and for­mer club cap­tain Colin Toohey, play­ers and sup­port­ers were due to walk, cy­cle, run, swim and kayak a to­tal of 16,000km (10,000 miles) be­tween them – the equiv­a­lent dis­tance of South­port to the South Pole – with a £16,000 tar­get.

Such was every­one’s im­mense re­spect for Gra­ham that they in­stead trav­elled across the cir­cum­fer­ence of the world twice over – a to­tal of 72,000km (45,000 miles).

Colin Toohey said: “We have done it! I am just so proud of the club, that we achieved what we set out to do, in rais­ing money for the South­port and Orm­skirk Hospi­tal Char­ity and to hon­our a great man, Gra­ham El­lis.

“The whole club has been awe­some and we have had a real mix of peo­ple who have taken part, from young to old, fam­i­lies ex­er­cis­ing to­gether and mak­ing new friends in the group chal­lenges we have un­der­taken.

“It has also been great to see peo­ple step up and push them­selves be­yond their com­fort zones and chal­lenge them­selves. I must thank James Cook, who ran all our so­cial me­dia dur­ing the El­lis Ex­pe­di­tion, which has helped cre­ate aware­ness and raise the funds.

“That is the kind of man that Gra­ham was, to have in­spired that level of sup­port among so many. There have been peo­ple in Dubai, in Aus­tralia, all over the world, do­ing chal­lenges in his mem­ory.

“There have been peo­ple in their 80s do­ing the ex­pe­di­tion, chil­dren aged five, the peo­ple in­volved are mostly from our rugby club but there are also oth­ers from the wider rugby fam­ily who are keen to hon­our him.”

Neil Ma­som, chair of South­port and Orm­skirk Hospi­tal’s char­ity adds: “What an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment and amaz­ing way to hon­our Gra­ham. Sadly I did not have the plea­sure of meet­ing him, but to in­spire this im­pres­sive fundrais­ing drive he must have been a very spe­cial per­son.

“We are in­cred­i­bly grateful for the do­na­tion and will make sure this is in­vested in some­thing which will make a last­ing dif­fer­ence to our staff and pa­tients.

“Once again, a huge heart­felt thank you from us all here.”

South­port Rugby Club raised more £35,000 for South­port and Orm­skirk Hos­pi­tals Char­ity, left, in mem­ory of club pres­i­dent Gra­ham El­lis, above

The group in Black­pool af­ter rack­ing up a few more miles

Gareth Lang and Colin Toohey, both kneel­ing, from South­port Rugby Foot­ball Club launch The El­lis Ex­pe­di­tion, above

Play­ers and fans formed a guard of hon­our along Water­loo Road to pay trib­ute to Gra­ham El­lis, right

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