Rugby club honours young fundraisers with top award

TWO junior rugby players who between them have raised many thousands of pounds for charity have been given a top award by their club.

Freddie Owen and Will Priddy are joint winners for 2021 of the Chobham RFC Ben Cross Sprit of Rugby Award.

William Priddy with dad Greg, sister Amelia, and mum Joanne

Ten-year-old Freddie, from West End, has collected £23,180 for the Trussell Trust foodbank charity while sleeping in a tent in his garden since March last year.

Will, 13, is well on the way to meeting his target of raising £10,000 for Brain Tumour Research through sponsored activities – inspired by his dad being diagnosed with cancer.

The Ben Cross award is made in honour of a much-respected club member who died unexpectedly at a young age.

“It is an award that is especially close to all of our hearts,” said a club spokesman. “Ben, who would have been 25 this year, is fondly remembered by many people in the club for his strength of character and positive impact on those who played rugby with him and knew him.”

Freddie was spurred into action to begin his tent sleep-out after the first coronavirus lockdown highlighted the problems of food poverty and the increasing use of foodbanks. He has stayed in the tent at night through snow, gales and heavy rain, except for a few nights sleeping in a cabin during a sailing holiday with his family.

Freddie Owen, with family pet dog Pippa, outside his tent on a frosty morning earlier this year

Three months past his first anniversary, he is aiming to complete 1,000 nights – which will be due on 22 December next year. But, he says, even then he probably will not sleep indoors for Christmas.

“We are all really thrilled with Freddie winning the award,” said his mum, Nicola. “It’s a great recognition for his achievement, and also for what Will is doing. Boys can be very determined when they set their mind on something.”

Will took on his fundraising challenge when lockdown started in January this year, collecting money to help find a cure for brain tumours, the disease which is affecting his father Greg.

He started by running a mile a day around his garden, intending to continue to the end of March. But he has carried on and increased the distance to an average of 3.6 miles a day – running the equivalent of four marathons in May alone.

Will, who lives in Staines-upon-Thames, was joined by his 15-year-old sister Amelia for 26 miles during May. On top of the running, he endured a sponsored head-shave last month and his fundraising total now stands at £8,167.

“Amelia has been my biggest cheerleader ever since I started running a mile a day at the beginning of the year,” said Will, who has been unable to play rugby due to the lockdown suspension and having to isolate with his family for COVID-19 precautions.

“I have managed to completely ruin our lawn but, fortunately, Dad and Mum don’t mind, as it’s for a cause so close to our hearts.

“We were all totally shocked when Dad was diagnosed in November last year and then we were devastated to learn on Christmas Eve that his brain tumour was cancerous.

“Dad is our hero, and we can’t do anything ourselves to help him get better.”

Greg is being admitted to the Royal Marsden today (6 July) to prepare for his stem cell transplant procedure.  He will have to remain in hospital for at least four weeks in complete isolation with specially filtered air conditioning because he will be so vulnerable to infection.

Will’s mum, Joanne, said: “The really hard thing is Greg won’t be able to have any visitors, it’s going to be a long four weeks.

“Even after Greg comes home, we will all have to continue to shield until at least 1 September or until his bloods show he isn’t so vulnerable to infection.

“I am so proud of William. With a spare pair of Greg’s glasses on, he looked just like his dad after his head-shave. They are two peas in a pod.

“Amelia woke up the day of Will’s head-shave and decided to have 35cm of her hair chopped off, which she donated to The Little Princess Trust to be made into a wig for a young person with cancer.”

Because Will is shielding for his dad, he will not be able to accept the award in person.

* The boys each have an online fundraising page.

To sponsor Freddie, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/freddie-owen123

To support Will, it’s www.justgiving.com/fundraising/william-priddy1

Recommended For You

About the Author: Editorial Team