A dinner and auction was held at Bognor RFC to support ex-player Paul Curtis, who was paralysed from the chest down just over a year ago in a tragic mountain bike accident.
The dinner was attended by 220 people, including ex-England stars Paul Ackford, Peter Winterbottom and Micky Skinner, and more than £20,000 was raised which will contribute to the cost of converting Paul’s house in Penclawdd so that he is able to return home to his family.
The three-course dinner was provided by Tony Fitzpatrick and was served by volunteer members of the Bognor under-15 and under-16 rugby teams. The auction prizes alone, including signed England shirts, raised more than £10,000.
Paul began his rugby career at Bognor in the 1970s before going on to play for Rosslyn Park, Harlequins and England at U19, U23 and B level. As he came to the end of his top-flight career he married Rhian and moved to Penclawdd, a small village just outside Swansea, where he continued playing and coaching for many years.
Since his catastrophic injury Paul has been staying at Cardiff University Hospital and then Rookwood Hospital, Cardiff. He is expected to move shortly to a care home in Gorseinon from where the eventual target is his own house in Penclawdd.
The village community has been hugely supportive and has turned out en masse to support the fund to return Paul home.
The rugby communities of Harlequins, Bognor, and indeed the wider rugby community, have all pulled together to support Paul and it is indicative of his own popularity that all expectations have been exceeded.
Ex-England internationals Will Carling, Brian Moore, Peter Winterbottom, Mike Teague and Dick Best joined 100 sponsored riders who recently cycled from Bognor to Harlequins to raise thousands more for the cause.
Future events include a gala dinner in London organised by Harlequins and a Promise Auction at Bognor RFC on March 16. Anyone wishing to make a donation should go to Paul Curtis at Justgiving.com or contact Leighton Thomas on 07841 436327.