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Sold-out fundraiser to be held in memory of Suffolk rugby player

Josh Gilbert Picture: ED FORD

Josh Gilbert Picture: ED FORD

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A sold-out gala dinner in memory of a “larger than life” Suffolk rugby player who tragically died during a match last year is being held tonight to raise money for charity.

Josh at the Bury St Edmunds Young Farmers Club's 50th Anniversary Ball at Thurston RUFC in 2016. He was chairman of the club at the time and was collecting money for the raffle. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYJosh at the Bury St Edmunds Young Farmers Club's 50th Anniversary Ball at Thurston RUFC in 2016. He was chairman of the club at the time and was collecting money for the raffle. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Josh Gilbert was playing for Thurston Rugby Club against Hadleigh on September 16, 2017, when he collapsed on the pitch from an unusual heart condition.

The popular 25-year-old, from Walsham-le-Willows, was chairman of Bury Young Farmers’ Club and a keen sportsman who also played for Walsham-le-Willows Cricket Club.

His death has inspired the Suffolk Young Farmers, Thurston Rugby Club and Walsham-le-Willows Sports Club to organise a fundraising dinner which will include a charity auction.

Proceeds from the event will be divided between organisations Josh was closely linked with and the charity Heart UK.

Thurston Rugby Club commissioned a gin in memory of Josh earlier this year  Picture: GREGG BROWNThurston Rugby Club commissioned a gin in memory of Josh earlier this year Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tory Lugsden, of Suffolk Young Farmers and one of the organisers, said: “Josh was chairman of Bury St Edmunds Young Farmers, and was a larger than life character.

“We were so shocked and saddened by what happened, that we wanted to do something in memory of Josh and to celebrate his life.

“The gala dinner for 300 people has sold out. All the proceeds from the auction and the raffle will be donated to Heart UK, together with a percentage of the ticket sales.”

MORE: ‘True son of Suffolk’ Josh Gilbert touched so many lives

In April, Josh’s family spoke about how his organs have helped more than 25 people since his death.

His father, Howard Gilbert, said the family was “enormously proud” of his son’s decision to be an organ donor.

Josh’s corneas were donated to a 27-year-old man and a 21-year-old womanin the UK within a month of his death.

Speaking in April, Mr Gilbert said: “The word legacy gets used a lot, but it’s a particularly fine legacy.”

Thurston Rugby Club also made its own gin in honour of Josh earlier this year and donated all the proceeds from sales to charity.

The club commissioned 70 bottles of the dry gin from The Stillery in Bury St Edmunds, which was named Rangers on the Bridge based on the fact that the club calls its bar ‘The Bridge’.

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