FRIENDS of former Royal Wootton Bassett footballer James Smith have been able to make a generous donation to the hospice that cared for him in his final days this week.
The 24-year-old Royal Marine died in December after finding out that he had terminal cancer a year ago.
Before joining the marines in 2015, James had played for the reserves and under 18s at Bassett before going on to play for Cirencester Town’s development squad.
On Easter Sunday, hundreds of his friends came together for a charity memorial match between both teams which organisers say was a resounding success.
It was during his last few days that James spent time at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice and following the charity match, a total of £7,500 was raised for the hospice.
James’ friends were able to hand over the cheque to staff on Wednesday.
One of the organisers of the football match, Rachael Bartlett said all of Jamie’s friends were astounded by the turnout to the football match as her boyfriend Kyle was one of his best friends.
“We are all over the moon with how much money we managed to raise for such an amazing hospice in memory of James,” she said.
“It was a pleasure handing the cheques over on Wednesday evening, knowing that the money raised is going to a good cause and will help many family and friends in the future.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who came to support our charity football match and family day, including everyone who donated wonderful raffle prizes and helped on the day.
“We managed to sell all of our raffle tickets, 3000 of them – which was a massive achievement
“I believe Wootton Bassett want to host the charity match next year, so we hope to see everyone there to support them
“Leckhampton Hospice run on charitable work and their goals are to raise just over £2million a year from events like ours, to keep the hospice running.”
Despite living on the outskirts of Cirencester, James was incredibly popular with people in Wootton Bassett where his dad Rod is the chairman of the cricket club.
At the charity football match, he fought back tears after seeing the amount of people who came to honour his son.
James left the marines due to an injury and it was only when he started treatment that led to the tragic discovery of him having a terminal tumour.
Mike Tague, head of hospice fundraising at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, said: “Everyone at Leckhampton Court has been incredibly touched by the fantastic response to the memorial match for James and the huge figure raised in James’ memory.
“We want all the organisers, players and supporters to know that what they have achieved will make a real difference to people and families needing our care.
“As a charity we could not do this without the amazing support of people like you so thank you.”
It is hoped to make the charity football match an annual event.