On the 27th July 2013, I am going to be doing a sponsored tandem skydive jump in Durham in memory of my dad David O’Connor but it is to raise money for the Rugby Football League Benevolent Fund (Try Assist).
My Dad played amateur rugby for East End Park Working Men’s Rugby Team, Yew Tree, Leeds and District, Yorkshire and British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA).
My Dads natural ability on the field gave him the honour to play for his country “Great Britain” many times against Papua New Guinea, Australia and France. During his distinguished international and domestic playing career, as a prop and second row forward, he was never cautioned or sent off and was named the British Amateur Rugby League Association Player of the year for a record three times between 1980 and 1984, a record which still stands today.
He was asked many times to turn professional by a number of clubs here in England and also in France, but he always said no as he only wanted to play for the enjoyment of the game and to stay close to his family and friends.
Unfortunately his career was cut short prematurely as on the 11 April 1987, whilst playing for his country against France, he was seriously injured when tackled by two French counterparts and became paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. My Dad overcame many challenges that life threw at him over the next 25 years but he always remained positive, enjoyed life to the full and kept his great sense of humour and love for rugby.
The Rugby Football League Benevolent Fund (or Try Assist as it’s now known) was established to help and support past and present players who have been injured while playing rugby. Though the tough physical nature of rugby league is one of the things fans love about the game, it unfortunately means that on occasion, serious life changing accidents can occur. Try Assist play an important part by trying to make life more comfortable as possible for the individuals and dependents, especially through difficult times – with financial funding, help, support and advice. Try Assist acknowledge the rugby players and their families within their rugby family units.
To say thank-you for the support they gave to my Dad, he was going to do something to help raise money for the Fund but sadly last year on Tuesday the 17 July 2012, he was suddenly and tragically taken from us. He was in hospital on the ICU Unit for 5 weeks fighting against pneumonia, infections and having an emergency operation.
I am asking for your support by sponsoring me as I am doing something for my Dad as he didn’t get the chance to do something himself to help raise money for the Fund to help them continue to help and support other individuals who have suffered injuries from the rugby game. It is also a way of thanking the RFL Benevolent Fund for everything they have done for my Dad and family.