Members of Ilkeston Rugby Club will ride to remember friends

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Rugby players will take part in a coast-to-coast charity bike ride in memory of two friends who died.

Ilkeston Rugby Club players and members will cycle 140 miles from St Bees in Cumbria to Tynemouth in Tyne and Wear over a two-day period in late June.

Since his death in 2010 at the age of 21, members of the club have planned and completed various challenges and events in memory of Gareth Lewis, a fellow Ilkeston Rugby Club player.

Last year Ilkeston Rugby Club lost a further valuable team member, Kit Taylor, who died suddenly. He had been on the organising committee. His son has now taken over the role.

Liam Smithurst, part of the organising team, said: “I was best friends with Gaz. His sister is doing the bike ride.

“We are hoping to raise £6,000 and already have donations coming in.”

There will be 37 people taking part in the challenge -30 riding the bikes and the rest providing back-up.

“Although the main emphasis of this challenge is to remember and respect Gareth and Kit, we will also use this opportunity to raise money for the RFU Injured Rugby Players Foundation, who offer assistance for those who are seriously injured by the sport,” Liam said.

Other Ilkeston Rugby Club members will be supporting this event by completing a static cycle at the clubhouse, where people will take turns to keep the bike wheels in motion for 24 hours.

Derby and Long Eaton rugby clubs are supporting their plight by mirroring the static cycle at their own clubhouses.

“We anticipate other rugby clubs joining us, showing a real sense of rugby community spirit, camaraderie and respect for fellow rugby players,” he added.

You can sponsor the team at or donate by text by sending ‘IRFC71 £5’ to 70070.