Invite to Soccer Match in Memory of Officer

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Invite to Soccer Match in Memory of Officer

Posted: 21/04/2008 15:58:47

Police officers in Shrewsbury who are staging a charity soccer match in memory of PC Ricky Gray, who died in service a year ago, are urging members of the public to be part of the occasion.

They are hoping a large crowd will attend the Ricky Gray Memorial Football Match at Shrewsbury Town’s new Oteley Road stadium on Friday May 2.

PC Gray, who died from a gunshot wound while attending an incident in Shrewsbury on May 6 last year, was a keen footballer taking part in regular police matches and Sunday night five a side sessions. His colleagues felt a football match was the most appropriate way of marking the first anniversary of his death while at the same time raising funds for charity.

Many officers from across Shropshire, together with their families will be watching the game which kicks off at 6.45pm. But the fixture is also open to the public and the organisers are anxious that as many people as possible turn up to help boost the charity funds.

The guest of honour will be PC Gray’s wife Mrs Jenny Lee-Gray whose two chosen charities are the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and The Royal Star & Garter Homes for disabled ex-servicemen and women.

Among the guests will be officials from both charities, including Falklands War hero Simon Weston OBE, a vice president of Star & Garter.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Matthews, one of the match organisers, said: “We all wanted
to be involved in something to remember Ricky by. Ricky was a keen sportsman and loved his football.

“He was a regular in the Over-35’s team against the Under-35’s, usually ending up on the winning side. Ricky also attended our regular Sunday night five-a-side sessions at Monkmoor recreation ground.

“Staging a football match in his name and his memory seemed the best way to honour and remember him by – something Ricky himself would have appreciated. We also want to raise as much money as possible for Jenny’s two nominated charities.”

Sergeant Matthews said a piper from PC Gray’s old Army regiment the Black Watch would lead the two teams and match officials onto the pitch before gathering round the centre circle for a minute’s silence.

The pipe band of the Black Watch Association is expected to entertain the crowd before kick-off and it is hoped the Association’s drum band will also attend.

DS Matthews said: “Everyone wants the occasion to be informal and enjoyable while raising a significant sum for the charities. The players will make it fun, playing in the spirit of the game with Ricky – their team-mate on so many occasions – very much in mind”.

He praised Shrewsbury Town FC for allowing the match to be played on the New Meadow and for supplying kits for the teams. “The club has been marvellous, really supportive, and we appreciate their help.”

Volunteer ball boys from Saha Bucaneers under nine’s football team - coached by Detective Sergeant Tony Skelding - will help keep the game flowing.

The teams have been named Rickster’s Rovers, captained by PC Gray’s close colleague PC Mat Crisp and Gray’s United, led by Detective Chief Inspector Gary Higgins. The players are aged from 13 to 50, ranging from fit to unfit, and with plenty of substitutes on both sides.

There will be a nominal entrance fee of £5 per family or £2 per individual. All proceeds will go to the two chosen charities. Parking is available at the ground.

Trophies will be presented to the players by Mrs Lee-Gray.

A private buffet is being laid on for players and PC Gray’s close colleagues after the game and an auction with a small number of special prizes will be staged to boost funds. The top prize is a VIP tour of Holyhead lifeboat station in Anglesey, one of the RNLI’s biggest stations. It will include a luxury weekend for two at a local hotel.

Other prizes include a signed and framed football shirt from PC Gray’s favourite team Dundee United, an England shirt signed by Alan Shearer and signed books from Simon Weston.

The police in Shropshire are likely to hold an annual soccer match in memory of PC Gray, very much in line with the existing Over-35s/Under-35s regular fixtures, to be played on a local pitch in the Shrewsbury area.

Permalink: http://www.thesite.co.uk/viewnewsstory.asp?newsid=2314

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