THE sad loss of a town rugby club has resulted in a happy ending for charity thanks to the organisation’s kind-hearted trustees.
Hartlepool Athletic Rugby Football Club scored its last try in September 2011 when mounting debts proved too much causing the club to close its doors.
The clubhouse, surrounding land and outstanding debts then became the subject of a long legal battle which the club’s trustees, Jim Ainslie, secretary, Mick Faulkner, treasurer, Mick Dowdle, committee representative and Ed Norton, ex-captain, were determined to address and settle.
The sale of the club and land was finally completed at the end of May this year and the appointed legal representatives settled all outstanding debts with the trustees agreeing that any surplus would be donated to charity.
But just shy of a year earlier, in July 2012, club stalwart Mick Dowdle sadly passed away after a short but brave fight with illness, aged 64.
He was cared for at Hartlepool & District Hospice and trustees have now donated the huge figure of £15,418 to the Wells Avenue-based facility.
Jim Ainslie, who is also a Labour councillor on the Headland and Harbour ward, said: “This is a bittersweet moment for me.
“We, the trustees, are pleased to leave this legacy in Mick’s name, he is a sadly missed friend of many from the club.”
Hartlepool and District Hospice staff were sad to see the back of the rugby club but pleased to have been able to support Mick through his short battle with illness.
The grateful staff were taken aback by the massive donation to boost the palliative care services the hospice offers to residents in Hartlepool and East Durham.
Francis McAllister, director of fundraising at the hospice, said: “It is sad to see a community based club like Hartlepool Athletic Rugby Football Club forced to close as well as losing Mick Dowdle, a key member of the club’s management team.
“Mick made a fantastic contribution, not only to the rugby club, but also to the great sporting heritage in Hartlepool.
“He will be missed by a lot of people and everyone in the hospice is pleased to have been able to support Mick in his final days.”
Francis added: “I would also like to thank the remaining club trustees, Jim, Mick Faulkner and Ed for their generous donation to the hospice which will help us to continue to provide essential services to the local community.”