Bolton rugby fan takes on six half marathons for the Six Nations on behalf of The Christie and his dad
A rugby fan and former player from Bolton has set himself the incredible challenge of running six half-marathons in just over six months for the 2024 Six Nations in an effort to raise money for The ChristieNHS Foundation Trustand his late father.
Thomas Relph, a 37-year-old who previously represented local side Bolton RUFC, is taking his love of the gentleman’s game and the annual Six Nations tournament one step further by putting in nearly 80 miles between March and October on behalf of the local cancer research and treatment hospital.
Relph and his dad Mark, who he sadly lost to cancer in July last year, always shared a deep love affair with the game since Tom was a little kid, travelling all around the world to watch rugby along with his brother Oliver.
Speaking ahead of the challenge, Thomas said wanted to do something to honour his dad’s memory in a unique and inspiring way, as he explained: “After he died, I felt I needed to do something for The Christie as they cared for my dad so much… I felt I owed them, as they made it possible for my dad to meet his grandson and spend some quality time with him.
Explaining that he wanted to carry out some fundraising ever since his dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in January 2021, he said that “COVID-19 and a new-born son meant time soon got away from [him]” and his dad tragically passed aged 66 following a stroke and cardiac arrests.
Having already signed up to do a charity run in Cardiff with some of his mates, Tom thought, “Why not go beyond this and make it a proper challenge and do something that I know my dad would be proud of and in places that would mean something to him and me.”
With that in mind, he has now gone from doing 13.1 miles with a group of friends to now signing up for half-marathons in France, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, as well as one final homecoming run at the Manchester Half-Marathon to round off a whopping 126.5 kilometres.
In true Six Nations fashion as well, he went on to add, “Hopefully I’ll be enjoying a pint of Guinness after each race as a tribute to my dad.” You’re going to smash it Tom and we’ll be cheersing one up to your dad as well, don’t you worry.
His playing days back in Bolton might be behind him, but Thomas is taking his training seriously ahead of his first half-marathon in Paris on Sunday, 3 March and we can’t wait to welcome him home for the city centre run here in Manchester on Sunday, 13 October.
He’ll also have brother Oli joining him for the Manc run and as well as arranging a celebration in the city afterwards to toast their victory and their dad’s memory, they’re also hoping to raise over £6,000 (there’s a theme here) for the charity, having already surpassed £4.3k. Amazing.
Thomas signed off by saying: “The Christie is a truly exceptional facility that provided my dad with the care and support needed to initially beat cancer and later during its unfortunate return. My Dad’s sister Deborah was also treated there and they gave her some extra time to enable her to see me get married.
“She unfortunately died from a brain tumour a few years ago but was always a part of our lives growing up as a doting Auntie. So, The Christie really means a lot to our family and, hopefully, I can raise as much money as possible to support the cause.”
You can donate to Thomas’ JustGiving HERE and do your bit to help spur him whilst donating to the worthiest of causes. And if you’re still looking for where to watch the Six Nations in Manchester this year, don’t worry, you’re in the right place.
Bolton Wanderers pay emotional tribute to lifelong fan who died following cardiac arrest last weekend
Bolton Wanderers FC are in mourning as they pay tribute to a lifelong fan who tragically died during a league match this past weekend.
Boyhood Bolton fan Iain Purlsow, 71, suffered a suspected cardiac arrest during the home fixture against Cheltenham Town on Saturday, 14 January.
The game was ultimately abandoned after Purslow was rushed to hospital and sadly passed away later that afternoon.
The club and its fan base have been paying their respects to the Oldham-based supporter, with social media awash with tributes and posts remembering the well-known fan, as well as tips on how to try and help in the event of a medical emergency in the crowd.
Iain Purslow will be remembered tomorrow evening, I encourage every single one of you to come to the game and pay your respects!! RIP Iain 🤍 🕊️ pic.twitter.com/5VzPCezbMU
The 71-year-old Bolton fan sadly died despite the best efforts of several individuals who attempted to save his life using CPR.
A regular match-goer with his son Stuart Purslow, Iain was described as nothing short of a true member of the “BWFC family” by manager Ian Evatt, who assured that his family will be given the peace, time, patience and privacy to deal with the tragic loss.
The head coach went on to insist that “it is all about them and nobody else. Obviously, we’re extremely saddened to lose one of our fans – we are united, we are a family here… but it’s not about anybody else but that family tomorrow evening and Saturday.
“They deserve some time to mourn and some peace and quiet — and to be left alone to do that”.
As alluded to, as agreed with Iain’s family, the club will be holding a minute’s silence before the start of their FA Cup tie against Luton Town on Tuesday night (16 January) as well as a minute’s applause in the 71st minute, with black armbands being worn and club flags being flown at half-mast.
🗣️ "We want to do all we can to make he and his family proud."
⚪️ Bolton boss Ian Evatt wants the players to pay tribute to fan Iain Purslow with their performance tonight.
Bolton will commemorate the life of supporter Iain Purslow with a minute of silence prior to Tuesday's Emirates FA Cup third-round replay against Luton Town, with a minute of applause to be encouraged in the 71st minute.
While not referenced directly by Evatt, the emphasis on privacy feels more pertinent than ever after The Sun published a shameful headline claiming that the game had been abandoned simply because a fan was “ill” prior to the news of Purslow’s death.
Naturally, fans across the UK and outside of football were appalled and have once again called for people to boycott the tabloid.
More importantly, however, it highlighted just how crucial first aiders, medics and fans within British football grounds are, with Bolton thanking their “supporters and medical staff who provided assistance, and for the cooperation and understanding of everyone inside the stadium”.
They gave special thanks to those directly involved in trying to save Iain, including photographer and former paramedic Lee Parker, who was first on the scene; fellow fans Dr Simon Irving, Dr Syed Bokhari and James Bracegirdle, as well as steward Gerald McManus and the North West Ambulance Service.