700 step out to support Rowcroft’s ‘The Big Tackle’

£90,000 in funds raised

In an inspiring display of community support, over 700 participants gathered on Saturday 9 March for the hospice’s annual fundraising event, ‘The Big Tackle’, which kicked off from Torquay Rugby Club.

Formerly known as ‘The Male Trail,’ this eight-mile walk around Torbay brought together individuals from across South Devon to contribute nearly £90,000. With many participants walking in memory of their loved ones, the event drew attention to the crucial issues surrounding grief and bereavement that touch us all. Funds raised from the event will be used to deliver specialist palliative and end-of-life care to patients across South Devon, as well as bereavement support to loved ones.

Exeter Chief’s rugby legend Jonnny Gray and Award-winning chef and restauranteur Mitch Tonks were in attendance

Jonny Gray poses in front of rugby pitch in front of a Big Tackle flag

Scotland international and Exeter Chiefs’ rugby legend Jonny Gray was there to cheer everyone on.

He said: “The atmosphere today is wonderful. It’s fantastic to see so many people getting behind The Big Tackle and supporting this great cause. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Award-winning chef and restaurateur Mitch Tonks completed the eight-mile walk. He said: “The atmosphere on the start line was electric; there was so much energy and there was a lovely community feeling. Seeing 700 people turn up with their own personal testimonies to those they’ve lost was actually really emotional.

The hospice is an extraordinary piece of our community and I’m here to support it. I’ve had three very dear friends who have been cared for by Rowcroft.

One local supporter raised an incredible amount of £4,256

The Big Tackle’s top fundraiser was Keith Durbridge, 75, from Paignton, who raised £4,256 for the hospice.

I’m walking in memory of my late-wife Judith who died ten years ago,” said Keith. “Judith received palliative care at home from Rowcroft. The hospice provided an unbelievable service, not just caring for Judith but for all the family and providing bereavement counselling for my daughter.

Supporters share their experience

Jon Scott, 39, from Paignton and his eight-year daughter Eva Scott also completed the eight-mile circuit, raising a terrific £300.

We’ve had such a great day,” said Jon. “My nan was cared for at the hospice. The care teams did such an amazing job and made sure that she was peaceful and comfortable until the end. It’s great to see so many people out supporting the hospice today; it highlights the amazing community spirit among the people here.

A group of men walking their eight-mile sponsored walk

Chris Byrne, 64, and his team of ‘Kieran’s Krusty Krackers’ from Newton Abbot walked in memory of their friends Kieran Dove and Chris Cally.

We lost Kieran and Chris in the pandemic and they were both cared for by Rowcroft Hospice,” said Chris. “As a group, we’ve all been friends for ages and we love going along to watch Exeter Chiefs’ matches together. We’ve raised £269 for the hospice, with more money still coming in.

Rowcroft’s Events Manager was delighted with this year’s turn out

Alexia Croft, Rowcroft’s Events Manager, said:

We’d like to say a massive thank you to all the incredible legends who took part in The Big Tackle to raise essential funds for the hospice. The weather was atrocious but it didn’t stop our walkers! It was truly heart-warming to see everyone on the move, with many dedicating their strides to loved ones lost. The day provided a beautiful opportunity to ‘walk and talk,’ to remember and honour those special people who they miss, and to create lasting connections with friends and family along the eight-mile route.

Our gratitude also goes to Torquay Rugby Club for generously hosting the event and screening the Six Nations Rugby, and we give special thanks to our fantastic sponsors WBW Solicitors, Torbay Clearance Services, and Bays Brewery for their amazing support, and to Caterfood for providing the pasties.

Bays Brewery Director Peter Salmon invites people to register their interest now for 2025’s Big Tackle

A man stands, holding a pint of Bays and a rugby ballPeter Salmon said: “As a local family run business, we’re delighted to support Rowcroft Hospice by sponsoring The Big Tackle. It’s been an awesome day and it’s been fantastic to see so many people coming together to support their local hospice, and we’d love everyone to sign up again for next year. To register your interest, please go to thebigtackle.org.uk

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