Pals to remember "courageous" Richie
FAMILY and friends will tomorrow pay tribute to a young dad who died just two months after his son was born.
Popular former Cheltenham Saracens rugby player and Bredon School pupil Richie Clapham died from a brain tumour six months after he was diagnosed with cancer.
He only got to spend two months with his son Brodee, before losing his fight against the growth.
Those who knew and loved the 31-year-old will remember him tomorrow with a memorial service at his old school and a special rugby match at Saracens' ground in Brooklyn Road, Cheltenham.
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Friends will remember the good times they shared with larger-than-life Richie during the morning service at the school, at Bushley, near Tewkesbury. Then the focus will turn to a match to be played at 2.30pm to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Richie's nickname was "Hard Man", and a team of his pals taking that name will play against one representing Saracens.
Richie and his family lived in Woodmancote before emigrating to Auckland, New Zealand, in 2001.
Many of his loved ones, including his mother and father Eugenie and Lindsay, his wife Rachel and son Brodee, have flown back to the UK for tomorrow's events.
In the programme for the match, his mother said Richie had died, in July last year, with Rachel by his side.
She said: "His courage and will to live was immense and he fought the battle with the courage and determination he lived his life by". Let's honour him and the millions of others in this world fighting the same battle.
"The whole of the Clapham family thanks everyone involved in hosting this amazing day.
"We feel humbled and blessed to have so many amazing people in our lives."
Mark Sheen, who also went to Bredon School, and was one of Richie's best friends, has been the main organiser for tomorrow's events.
He said that, in a video he bravely made before he died, Richie had encouraged his friends not to mourn him but to remember the fun things they had done together.
Mark said that inspired him to stage the rugby match and various other fundraising activities surrounding it, such as face-painting, a cake sale, a raffle and an auction.
Items to be sold for the cause include England rugby tickets and a holiday in the Cotswolds.
He said: "The main emphasis is to do our bit to fight cancer as that was ultimately what took Richie's life.
"It's also a celebration of Richie and the fact that he loved his rugby.
"He had an infectious personality. He was the jester of the group but also had a very strong passionate side."