Rugby veterans re-unite in match for brain-injured Caitlin

Former rugby club masters re-united for a charity match to support a young woman recovering from brain damage.
Former rugby club masters re-united for a charity match to support a young woman recovering from brain damage.

Old rugby club teammates have been praised for coming together for a one-off charity masters’ match to support one of their veteran families.

Former Garibaldi rugby league players around Mansfield, ranging in age from their 40s to 60s, took to the field in a one-off game to support a fellow veteran whose daughter, Caitlin Gregory, suffered a life-changing accident last year.

Some 34 former Garibaldi rugby club veterans played a charity match while others joined to show support.

Some 34 former Garibaldi rugby club veterans played a charity match while others joined to show support.

Caitlin, 24, was hit by a car in November, leaving her in a near-vegetative state. She has since been undergoing specialist rehabilitation and has made remarkable progress regaining her movement, speech and cognitive abilities.

In aid of their old teammate’s daughter, some 30 members of the Garibaldi Masters returned to their old pitches at Debdale, now the home of Sherwood Wolf Hunt RLFC, on Saturday 30.

Dad Neil Gregory, 54, said he was brought to tears by the overwhelming support.

He said: “It’s unbelievable, beyond my wildest dreams. Thirty-four ex-players turned out for the match – a lot of people were close friends I’ve not seen for years, so it was fabulous to see the support – it physically brought a tear to my eye. It was an enjoyable day, a lot of fantastic raffle prizes were donated by people.

Caitlin Gregory, pictured with her dad Neil, suffered life-changing brain injuries when she was hit by a car last year.

Caitlin Gregory, pictured with her dad Neil, suffered life-changing brain injuries when she was hit by a car last year.

“They raised £2,310 on the day and one of the ex-players, Les Marshall, promised to double the total for the day, so we’ve raised close to £5,000.

Caitlin’s family and friends have been making day-long trips to visit her at a specialist centre in Leamington Spa, but Neil said her doctors have signed her off to return back to Nottinghamshire by the end of August.

Neil said: “She’ll be in Linden Lodge to continue her rehabilitation which will make it much easier for friends and family to visit and support her. It’s onwards and upwards.”

Carl Hardwick, 49, an ex-Garibaldi player from Clipstone who organised the event said the masters were reunited for the very purpose of raising support for Caitlin and her family. He said: “Caitlin’s dad Neil was a very big part of rugby league in the Mansfield area and it was only fitting that we got people back of all ages in respect for the family.”

“I would like to thank the generosity of the people who kindly donated to make it possible to raise such an incredible amount.

“My final thoughts must go to Caitlin herself.

“She is an absolute inspiration to each and every one of us.
“Every improvement is a significant milestone - the rugby league family is behind you all the way.”

To find out more or to offer any support for Caitlin’s ongoing recovery visit facebook.com/caitlinsfund.