A grieving widow who lost her soulmate has been left ‘blown away’ after a charity football match in memory of her husband raised £5,000.
Millie Croft, 56, of Hills Road, Steyning, organised the event to raise funds for St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing, where her husband, Paul, 57, was looked after in his final days.
The event was held at Steyning Town Football Club on Sunday.
Known as Lobby and described as a ‘one in a million guy’, Paul was diagnosed with Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) on January 19, and died just two weeks later.
He coached and played for a number of Southern Combination League football teams across Sussex.
Mille said: “It went better than I could have wished for – it was amazing. More than 400 people came, I was really chuffed with the turnout and the donations. The auction and raffle prizes were amazing.
It went better than I could have wished for – it was amazing.Millie Croft
“It was a typical ‘Paul’ day, it would have been right up his street! The weather was fantastic and players and the football club encouraged me to do it again next year.
“I thought it would be nice to raise a £1,000 and as it got nearer the time I thought we could make more, maybe two or three, But £5,000, I am blown away by it.
“I feel it is a real achievement and it is worthwhile – it has kept me focused. Everyone grieves in different ways and this has helped me. Not to say that the grief has gone, it never goes, but it has helped me do something worthwhile.”
Millie said £4,634.68 was raised on the day and an old friend of Paul’s topped up the amount to £5,000. The family have now raised a total of £7,000 for the hospice, with help from the community, in just six months since Paul’s death.
“Me and my family want to thank everyone that came and donated to such a special day,” said Millie.
“Also, a massive thank you to Gareth Dutton for organising it with me; Steyning Town Community FC, we couldn’t have done it without them; Pizza Oven staff who made and donated £353 and worked for free; Tim Kerr and Ritchie Laing, who kept the raffle entertaining – the bucket was full to the brim – and Wendy Bardsley and Neil Aspinal from the hospice who came along.
“Wendy, who I call my mentor, had also asked me to be an ambassador for the hospice, because of my story, and I felt really honoured. The hospice plays a huge place in my heart because it looked after Paul and my mum.
“If my story just helps a few people or volunteers, then I am happy. I feel like in the future if there is a place for me to do things for them, I will.”
The two teams who played in the match were Lobby’s Lads and Crofty Crusaders, and everyone playing knew Paul. The final score was 6-4 to Lobby’s Lads, and Paul’s son, Nathan, 24, and step son, Elliot, 18, were in the winning team. Nathan scored a penalty and was ‘over the moon’, Millie said.
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