Mitch goes the extra mile to help former Stourbridge Rugby Club team-mate

Neil Mitchell

Neil Mitchell

First published in News
Last updated

INTREPID Stourbridge Rugby Club's director of rugby Neil Mitchell pulled out all the stops by going that extra mile to help former team mate Paul Barker when taking part in a charity bike race.

Mitchell was accompanied on his epic ride by veteran club stalwart and first XV timekeeper Francis Trinham.

The pair travelled to Esher Rugby Club in Surrey to take part in the event.

Mitchell revealed: "I joined Stourbridge RFC from Coventry on the same day as Paul. He was one of the finest lock forwards I've ever played with, a real athlete.

"He left Stourbridge to join Esher and was having a problem with his leg. He had it x-rayed and discovered he had a rare form of bone marrow cancer which meant having his left leg amputated at the hip. He has also just finished having six months of chemotherapy.

"I've also known Francis since I first came to the club as well. He's a good old rake and larger than life character.

"When Francis told me he was doing the charity bike ride for Paul, I felt compelled to go and chaperone him.

The 20-stone plus Mitchell bravely entered the elite 100-mile contest, while the more modest Trinham opted for the 55-mile event.

Mitchell recalls: "After 68 miles, the routes converged and I found Francis at the bottom of the notorious Box Hill. He was clearly exhausted but never complained, which motivated me to push on.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but I didn't finish last of the elite riders

"Francis was last to finish of all the cyclists taking part and got the biggest cheer of the day. At 67, with a dodgy hip and a small French vineyard inside him these days, I thought he did remarkably well."

Money raised from the event will go towards obtaining a state-of-the-art prosthesis leg for Paul Barker.

Mitchell added: "The club has been raising money for Paul by various means. It includes donations from the Ladies Who Lunch and the James Allport Fund. I also managed to hi-jack the raffle money during the club dinner and have obtained unclaimed money from the club's 50-50 draw.

"So far, the club has raised £3,500 but we're still looking for more donations. If anyone can help, they can contact me at mitchsrfc@hotmail.com".

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