West Cumbrian town rallies round former rugby coach diagnosed with motor neurone disease
By Viv Paterson
A Maryport pub is on track to raise more than £6,000 after rallying around a popular former rugby player and coach who has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Kevin Gartland, who played for Workington Town and coached their academy team, the county amateur team and for clubs including Ellenborough, Maryport, Flimby and Westfield in Workington, was diagnosed with the degenerative condition in July.
A regular at the Royal Victoria, he asked staff if a fundraising collection on the bar could be donated to the MND Association, which had helped him.
But staff and customers wanted to do more. They organised a charity night which, along with the bar collection, raised more than £4,260 for the charity.
They hope to raise another £2,000 at an auction next Saturday, April 29.
Mr Gartland, of Criffel Avenue, said he was overwhelmed by the support he had received.
The 58-year-old played for Maryport from the age of 14 and was signed to Workington in 1981, playing with them, mostly in the second team, until 1987.
He worked as a plumber until his condition forced him to stop.
At the moment the disease is mainly confined to his hands and arms but he knows it will spread.
He said: “I’ve known for about four or five years that something was wrong. I kept getting weaker.
“I saw doctors but I was not diagnosed until last July.
“It was devastating at first even though I had suspected something was wrong. I still do as much as I can. You just have to put up with it and get on with life.”
Publican Jocelyne Branton called in her daughter Carrie Mayne, who she said was good at organising things, to help with the fundraising.
Mrs Branton said: “It has been a fantastic result. We expected to raise somewhere around £1,000 or £1,500.
“It has been so successful because everyone knows Kevin and wants to support him.”
Excitement is mounting at the pub for next week’s auction, where people can bid for lots including a signed shirt of Manchester United star Paul Pogba and shirts signed by some of the country’s best-loved rugby league players.
The auction begins at 3pm and entertainment at 7pm.
The three said they were grateful to all those who had donated, entertained or contributed to the fund raising efforts.