'Amazing' Leigh Park community raises more than £1,800 at charity football match in memory of popular grandfather and taxi driver Geoff Bloom
Relatives of kind-hearted Geoff Bloom were devastated when the 67-year-old died of lung cancer in May last year, having only been diagnosed five days prior.
To save his family the difficult decision of who to invite to a Covid-restricted funeral, Geoff arranged to be cremated without any kind of service.
More than a year on they were able to pay their respects to the former cab driver by hosting a football match in aid of the Rowans Hospice – where he spent his final days.
His daughter Kellie Mennell, 38, said: ‘It was so hard at the time because we were in the pandemic and we weren’t able to have a funeral or a wake.
‘My dad had suffered with leukaemia twice in his life and he saw how upsetting that was for us so he didn’t tell us until just before he died.
‘So this football match was not only a way to raise money for Rowans but to celebrate his life.
‘Football was his life, he played from a young age and then when he was older and stopped playing he was coaching and refereeing and still getting involved.’
Held at the Westleigh Park pitch on November 6, the two competing teams – known as blue team and Geoff’s team - were made up of Geoff’s teammates and friends.
Ultimately the blue team won after a three-all tie took them to penalties.
Spectators were asked to donate to watch, while funds were also raised by a sweet stall and raffle with prizes donated by local businesses. Combined with donations made to a Just Giving page, the event raised just over £1,800.
Organiser and friend of Kellie, Connor Robinson, 24, said ‘It was amazing seeing the community come together like this for Geoff.
‘It went so well we would like to host even more charity football matches in the future to keep raising money. So we could have a team for the Rowans Hospice against one for men’s mental health.’
Mum-of-three Kellie added: ‘He would’ve loved the match and he would’ve been so pleased to raise money for Rowans.
‘The care he received there was out of this world.’
To donate visit shorturl.at/jqsuG.