Remembering Bushy at Rowcroft’s Big Tackle

A tribute to a friend

Each year a group of around ten friends get together at Rowcroft’s Big Tackle to take part in the eight-mile sponsored walk in Torquay and to raise vital funds for the hospice. It’s also a chance to raise a glass to absent loved ones including their friend John Bush who passed away in 2022. Here one of the ‘Bushy Boys’, Gary Adderley from Paignton explains why he takes part and what the day means for him.

Gary’s fundraising journey with Rowcroft

“The first time I went along to The Big Tackle (then The Mail Trail), I was a volunteer marshall with my friend Neil Luscombe,” says Gary. “The following year, we decided to take part in the walk itself and raise money for Rowcroft. It snowballed from there: before long we had a large group of friends joining us each year to support the hospice.”

The Big Tackle day

“I enjoy the physical challenge of the walk and it’s a beautiful route in the fresh sea air. I feel satisfyingly tired at the end of it, especially after a few beers along the route! Getting a pint and a pasty at the finish line is also a nice reward, and it’s great to watch the Six Nations Rugby match on the screen at Torquay Rugby Club. It’s all very sociable.”

Connecting with friends

“The Big Tackle offers a great chance to get together with friends and I believe it’s helped to keep our bond as a group of mates very strong. Our group includes several of the lads I went to school with (Audley Park, now Torquay Academy) and we sometimes don’t see much of each other, so The Big Tackle brings us back together each year. Our friend John Bush (aka ‘Bushy’) did the walk with us in 2022. Nobody could have predicted that he wouldn’t be there the following year – he was only 56 when he died of cancer.”

Walking in memory

“After Bushy died, it seemed like a natural thing to do the Big Tackle the following year in 2023 in his memory. There was a disbelief that he wasn’t there, but everyone thought it was a great idea to come together as a way of remembering him. Whereas my wife might see a girlfriend and talk for hours about personal issues like grief or death, I don’t think many blokes will do that. The Big Tackle gave us something tangible to do to show we are still thinking of him. On our backs, we all wrote his name, and the names of other people we had lost, and at every opportunity we had a drink and raised a glass to him.”

Talking about grief

“When it comes to grief, I feel that people sometimes assume that men don’t want to talk about the people who have died, but that may not be true. Sometimes I really would like to talk about it, but I sense that other people don’t feel comfortable listening. After my brother Kevin passed away 15 years ago at Rowcroft Hospice, I remember driving home from work and crying in the car. I had some counselling and I think it helped me – because there were some things I wanted to discuss but I didn’t know who to talk to about certain issues. Some people are very good communicators on all levels; some are not so good on sensitive subjects. My gut feeling is people often protect themselves by not wanting to talk about the death of someone else’s loved one.”

Giving back to the community

“The Big Tackle is an honourable social event where we can spend quality time with friends doing something worthwhile for the community. Everyone in Torbay has some connection with Rowcroft Hospice, either by having a friend or family member cared for by the hospice, or by giving a donation. We all feel better about ourselves for supporting Rowcroft through The Big Tackle. It’s win win because it’s a worthwhile cause, and we’re having a good time at the same time!”

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