Ex-professional rugby stars get back on the pitch for Halifax dad-of-three who died suddenly at 42

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A group of former professional rugby players are pulling their boots back on in memory of a much-loved dad-of-three from Halifax.

Lee Hunter was just 42 when he died after a sudden cardiac arrest at home, just after putting his daughters to bed.

Rugby club West Bowling ARLFC, where Lee used to play, has been fundraising in his honour in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

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On Saturday, May 6, the club will host its fourth annual family friendly gala day at the Horsfall Community Stadium when local players will face an All Stars team of ex-professionals including some who have played for England and Great Britain.

Lee with Carly and his daughtersLee with Carly and his daughters
Lee with Carly and his daughters

Confirmed professional players for the day include Adrian Morley, who represented Great Britain 30 times and England another 23 times; Gareth Ellis, Wayne Godwin, Danny Brough, Keith Senior, Steve Smith and James Feather.

Lee had to give up rugby when he was 25 after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy - a rare heart condition which was caused by a viral infection and led to inflammation of his heart muscle, making it harder for his heart to pump blood around his body.

He took medication to control his condition and was able to live an active and healthy lifestyle, such as taking up cycling, which became a huge passion of his.

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But in July 2018, Lee had a sudden cardiac arrest at home. A relative who lived nearby rushed to Lee’s aid and started CPR, before calling 999. Ambulance crews arrived to take Lee to Leeds General Infirmary - the same hospital where he worked as an estates manager.

Paul Robertson with Carly, Poppy and IndiePaul Robertson with Carly, Poppy and Indie
Paul Robertson with Carly, Poppy and Indie

There was nothing that could be done to save Lee and he passed away. He leaves daughters Lola, Poppy and Indie, and fiancée Carly-Jo Miller.

Paul Robertson, committee member of West Bowling ARLFC and a close friend of Lee’s, said that as well as the rugby, the day would include games stalls, a tombola, a face painter, a bouncy castle, and an array of food stalls.

“West Bowling continues to support the BHF as the charity will always be close to our heart,” said Paul.

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“Raising as much money as possible as well as raising awareness about heart conditions will always be important to us as a way of keeping the memory of our friend and former player alive.”