An inspirational rugby club president has tonight seen his players trek TWICE the way around the world and raise over £26,000 for the NHS in his memory.
Southport Rugby Football Club President Graham Ellis sadly died four weeks ago, aged 64, just before he was due to officially launch The Ellis Expedition in his honour.
Father-of-three Graham, who was married to wife, Anne, and father of Hugh, Megan and Jack, had recently 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 last 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.
Throughout July, thanks to an idea by Colin Toohey, players and supporters at the club were due to walk, cycle, run, swim and kayak a total of 16,000km between them – the equivalent distance of Southport to the South Pole – with a £16,000 target. All money raised would go to the NHS.
Such was everyone’s immense respect for Graham that they have instead travelled across the circumference of the world twice over – a total of 72,000km (and still going) with the fundraising total now above £26,000.
All money raised will go towards the Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Charity.
Colin Toohey said: “We have done it!
“Southport RFC have trekked, rowed, cycled, swam, walked and ran from Southport, to the South Pole, around the circumference of the Earth, and then back from the South Pole to Waterloo Road; Covering 72,000km!
“Thank you to everyone involved.
”We have so far raised in excess of £26,000 for Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Charity.
Join us this Friday from 6pm to celebrate our achievement and raise a glass to Mr President, Graham Ellis.
“Please keep supporting our appeal for the NHS here: https://www.justgiving.com/team/SouthportRFC”
I spoke with Graham just a couple of weeks before he died. He spoke of his pride at the spirit within Southport Rugby Football Club and how he had helped in its development to what it has become today.
He said: “I love the game. I love Southport in particular.
“A few years ago the club was on its uppers. Thankfully with the likes of Andrew Carney, Anne Sharrock, John Vandermeer, Ed Fletcher, Steve Olive, we have really turned things around.
“They are absolutely wonderful people.
“You couldn’t ask for a better set of people to be running Southport Rugby Football Club.
“Southport is a proper community club, it is inspiring, in every sense of the word.
“Just to be associated with this is enormous. It is about the people. It sums up everything that is good about Southport.”
How to get involved in The Ellis Expedition:
Step One: Download Strava
Step Two: Join our group (https://www.strava.com/clubs/Southport-RFC)
Step Three: Sign up to the challenge (https://www.challengehound.com/…/6f1cd4b0-b089-11ea-b34a-b1…)
Step Four: Connect with Strava
Step Five: Run, Walk, Cycle…
Remember to donate! (www.justgiving.com/team/SouthportRFC)
For more details about The Ellis Expedition please visit: www.pitchero.com/clubs/southportrugbyunionfootballclub/ or email Colin Toohey at: email@example.com or follow the Southport RFC page on Facebook.