Footballing friends beat target

A Wetherby group of kick-about footballers mourning the death of one of their mates through suicide have astonished themselves by tripling their fundraising target with a 24-hour non-stop football match.

By Janet Harrison
Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 9:01 am

Workmates of 32-year-old father of two daughters Tom Beevers had hoped to collect £3,000 in memory of the ex-serviceman who took his life on New Year’s Eve.

Tom Wadsworth, one of the principal organisers, said: “The evening was a mix of shattered bodies, emotional minds and a general sense of satisfaction that the community had come together to not only celebrate but also to raise awareness for the prevention of young suicide and mental health awareness.”

To generate funds they had spent weeks selling raffle tickets and running a Justgiving page for Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide).

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The effort was led by their boss, Steve Watson, of Clearview Wetherby-based industrial and domestic window cleaning company.

Every week, Steve and his staff spend an evening playing football at the Wetherby Sports Association amenity, the Muga, at the Ings.

The shock of Tom Beevers’ death inspired his workmates to mount what became not just a 24-hour footballathon but a community celebration on the Saturday night, with bands, an Indian street food truck and a grand raffle drawn.

More than 160 football players - from junior, to women’s, men’s teams and vets’ groups - joined the 24-hour soccer session, each group playing two hour matches, from 6pm on Friday to 6pm on Saturday.

The sum of nearly £12,000 - far exceeding the organising group’s expectations - was greeted with cheers by around a hundred supporters and exhausted players who gathered at the Muga on Saturday night.

The money will be split between Papyrus and Tom’s young family.

The evening celebration was joined later by Tom Beevers’ parents and family, delighted by the response to the event.

Papyrus was founded in 1997 by a group of bereaved parents who had each lost children to suicide.

It works to prevent suicide and promote positive mental health and emotional wellbeing in young people.