Club to create toddlers park in memory of two rugby league players

Fundraising committee members Johnny Lawless, left, and Paul McCormack at the site of the proposed toddlers park at Siddal RLFC.

Fundraising committee members Johnny Lawless, left, and Paul McCormack at the site of the proposed toddlers park at Siddal RLFC.

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A community will remember two popular rugby players by raising £30,000 for a toddlers park at Siddal RLFC.

Mick Shaw and Matthew Smith both committed suicide in their 30s.

Johnny Lawless, 38, was best mates with Mick and was also close to Matthew and knew them both since childhood.

He said the loss of two popular characters in tragic circumstances rocked everybody who knew them.

“They were big characters and loved by a lot of people at the club,” said Johnny.

Club members had wanted to do something in their memory and it is only now they feel able to push ahead and a 10-strong committee has been formed.

Johnny said he was shocked to discover that suicide is the most common cause of death among men in their 30s.

The club will now raise awareness of suicide and has pledged to raise £30,000 to fund a toddlers park.

Johnny said the club runs teams at all age levels but has nothing for toddlers who are often at the club with their dads.

“Siddal is a big club with a lot of helpers doing fabulous work and we want a park built in memory of Mick and Matthew which will be long-lasting,” he said.

A launch day will be held on Sunday, June 30, which will include a race day, raffle and live music.

The first official fundraising day will be SidFit when people can choose from a walk, fun run, 10k run or a 60-mile bike ride and that will take place on Saturday, July 20.

In the afternoon there will be a Siddal AllStars team playing an invited AllStars team followed by a barbecue and live music.

Johnny, a former professional player who now coaches Siddal U-7s, said the club also intends making donations to Overgate Hospice and Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide.

He hopes the funding for the toddlers park can be reached within 18 months and anyone wishing to get involved - or donate prizes for raffles - can contact him on 07779806787.

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