Tom Hunter and Sam Hickinbottom organised a Cricket Memorial Day on 27/10/18 in memory of Ryan Tilley and raised £7204. Read their stories below.
I met Ryan at the age of 10 years old when he strolled into our cricket club to ‘give it a go’. Probably pushed into it in the school playground by Sam. Turns out he fitted into the team perfectly and was an extremely talented young cricketer. We then grew up together playing cricket for Cropston CC at least 4 times a week. It was like our second home right up until Ryan moved away to China for work. At least 14/15 years of playing cricket together, but even more importantly afterwards.
It was due to Ryan’s excellent friend making skills that I then became a part of his college friendship group. This led to minor meetings in Leicester for food and drinks and then right up to trips of a lifetime to Shanghai, Budapest, Lisbon etc. The list goes on. Without having Ryan in my life, I would not have been able to experience half of the things that I have actually had in my life.
I chose to organise this day for several reasons. Not only was Ryan a very good friend of mine, he was also a very good Son, Brother, Grandson, Colleague and friend to all that knew him. Being Ryan’s friend gave me the opportunity to be part of his vast friendship group and loving family. Therefore, I felt that it was only fair that I should raise awareness for CRY in Ryan’s memory at Cropston Cricket Club, a club in which he spent a lot of time and effort into building a team of true gents and talented cricketers. In addition, to thank him for letting me lead the fulfilled life that I have done to date.
What better way to celebrate Ryan’s life and raise awareness for a fantastic cause than to create a cricket themed day. I asked fellow player and very close school friend, Sam Hickinbottom to join me in creating this special day. Filled with cricket and socializing, two things Ryan and I did very well. We all pulled together at the club to create a very special day. This included children’s activities, adult activities, raffles, auctions, a dance troop and most importantly a cricket tournament. All of which were donations from some very generous people. Visitors and players traveled from all over the UK to support the day including two first class cricketers and some ex-players who Ryan played with in the youth set up at Leicestershire CCC.
After we found out about Ryan’s passing and the nature of his death, in my mind it was imperative that I did all I could to help raise money and awareness for CRY so that in future unfortunate friends and families of people who pass with the same condition have all the support they require whilst grieving.
I also wanted to contribute to the charity so that in future more and more screenings are carried out on young adults that play sport. Sport is very close to my heart as well as it was Ryan’s. Therefore, I wanted to do my upmost to make sure that all sportsmen and women can be screened as routine rather than after the event or before it is too late.
The event held at Cropston Cricket Club on August 27th 2018 in memory of Ryan Tilley can be seen as a success in a number of ways. The weather held off despite it threatening on a few occasions and there was a great turn-out by many, both the young and the old, cricket enthusiasts and others. There was laughter and dancing into the early hours of the morning, and a steady flow of beer throughout the day, all helping to contribute raising over £7,000 for CRY.
This was of course everything that Tom and I had hoped for when we began to organise the event, and looking back on that day I am so proud of what we achieved. But I also think back to us both in the early planning days and how organising it differed so much from if a club or friend had asked us to organise a similar event for them. I’m sure we’d have gotten as equally “stuck-in”, but every time we made a mental note to ring a caterer or a marquee company after work, we were reminded that the reason we were doing so is because we’d just lost our best friend at 28. It just didn’t seem right.
I was lucky enough to meet Ryan when I was 10 years old when I moved to secondary school. He was mad on football, as was I, and his team and mine were about to play in the same league that year. Friendly rivalry began and through it we became great friends. When he found out I played cricket when the football season ended he mentioned that he’d be keen to play as well, he needed something to do in the summer. And so he joined Cropston where we spent the next 15 years playing cricket pretty much non-stop. When we weren’t playing cricket we were playing football, or talking about cricket or football. Ryan, Tom, me and the lads came to see Cropston as a second home we spent that much time down there (and as we grew older also spent much money down there) and so it seemed fitting to hold a memorial day in a place that he had loved and where he had given so many others hours of enjoyment.
And so with the above in mind, the reason that day was a success for me was that every person there, whether they’d spent a minute in Ryan’s company or a lifetime, was reminded of one of those moments and laughs that they’d shared. They were reminded, quite simply, that had he not been a part of their life, they would not be the person that they are today. I see that in the mirror every morning, and I’ll thank him for it for the rest of my life. There is not a day that passes where I would give everything to have my mate back but sadly I know that this cannot be so. However, if the money that was raised for CRY can help save others from going through the heartache of losing a friend, a son, a grandson, a brother, then I know that those hard phone calls were certainly worth it.