THE vice-chairman of Oswestry Rugby Club has thanked the participants and supporters who have helped the club raise more than £30,000 during a charity challenge.

After starting the Ruck over Cancer challenge in February, the idea was to raise funds for the two cancer charities after the club’s president and two parents of members of the club were diagnosed with cancer within the space of six months.

Two teams of 15 have raised money while training ahead of a huge physical challenge on Sunday, September 19, which will see them take on the Ruck over Cancer Ironman event.

Stuart Johnson, the club’s vice-chairman who is taking part in the challenge, has been overwhelmed by the support the club has received.

He said: “It’s quite moving the fact that we have been supported in the manner that we have been.

“I think everyone has been touched by this horrible disease and everybody has united to fight against it.

“We’ve not just had support from people at the rugby club, we’ve had support from local businesses and sports clubs, of which there are so many.

“So many have joined in to try helping us out and advising us, including Shropshire Council and ambulance and fire services.

“It’s a proper community effort which I think Oswestry as a whole has to be really proud of.”

The total amount raised is currently at around £32,500 – already beyond the initial target of £30,000.

The funds will be split between Prostate Cancer UK and Breast Cancer UK.

With raffle prizes up for grabs at Sunday’s event, including signed shirts from Welsh rugby stars Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar, Stuart is hopeful the total raised will increase further.

He said: “Hopefully we raise a bit more on the day, particularly with raffle items donated to us. We’ve had lots of stuff gifted from local businesses too.

“It will be nice to sit back after it all on Sunday and celebrate what we’ve achieved.

“Some of the guys who set out on this journey were three-stone heavier at the start of this, and it has been a life-changing experience for some of them.

“They plan on continuing with their swimming, cycling and running and that’s a great thing.

“I don’t think we’ll be doing it next year, but maybe in a couple of years’ time.”

Sunday’s event will be officially started by the mayor of Oswestry at the club from 7.30am, where cyclists will begin their 112-mile ride.

At 8am, swimmers will enter the mere in Ellesmere and swim 2.4 miles, before runners will set off on a marathon at 10am.

Stuart has thanked everyone for their support so far, and is looking forward to seeing everyone take on the challenge this Sunday.

“We want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their efforts – it’s overwhelming,” he said.

“You expect a bit of money from some people, and then you end up with £500 in your fundraising account.

“We’ve even had donations from people who remained anonymous.

“We’d also like to thank the supporting rugby clubs – Shrewsbury, Telford, Newport, Market Drayton, Whitchurch and Wrexham.

“The two charities have been fantastic, and we’re glad the money raised is going to two worthy causes.

“The two charities are very effective with what they do."