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Monday, 20 May 2019
A CHARITY rugby match was held in memory of two former Henley Rugby Club players who died last year.
The Henley Vultures, the club’s veterans’ team, played a Henley president’s invitational XV at Dry Leas on Saturday with the game ending 38 all.
The match was to honour Simon Priestley and Adam Payne.
Mr Priestley , 46, was captaining the club’s fourth team, the Bears, against High Wycombe in January when he collapsed and died. Mr Payne, who also played for the club, took his own life in October, aged 36.
The families of both men attended the game. including Mr Priestley’s widow Julie, of Chilterns End Close, Henley, and Mr Payne’s sister Emma, of Sonning Common. Mr Payne’s brother Matt started for the Vultures.
It is hope the event will have raised £4,000 for mental health charity Mind, the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Henley.
It began with drinks in the clubhouse, followed by lunch, a raffle and live and silent auctions. After the game there was a barbecue followed by an after-party at Lovibonds in Market Place.
Misss Payne said: “It was a day of mixed emotions. I think if it had been raining and in the middle of December it might have been sad but I think everyone was happy to be there and to remember them. It was nice talking to Julie and reminiscing about how great both our loved ones were and how it sucks they are not here now.
“We want to raise awareness and talk openly talk about mental health.”
Matt Payne paid tribute to his brother in the matchday programme.
He wrote: “Adam was always the better rugby player out of the two of us, although I would never admit it to his face!
“When he was about 18, he suffered a bad shoulder injury and never really took it too seriously after that. Adam was always there at the bar buying a drink and would be the last to leave.
“He was always there to listen and try to help with your problems, which makes it so sadly ironic that he took his own life.
“This came as a shock to us all as he was always so supportive of everyone else.
“Adam will be missed forever, leaving behind a mother and father, two brothers and a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, niece and nephew, the list goes on.
“If by raising awareness we can stop this tragedy from happening to just one more person and their family, it is a start.”
Mr Payne added that days like Saturday “make you realise how precious life is and that we need to enjoy it whilst we can”.
Anthony Campbell, who was playing at scrum half on the day of Mr Priestley’s death, said: “You could not be around Priesters and not have fun. He was one of those rare people who left a positive impact on everyone he met. He loved people and people loved him.
“He was the glue in our team and all the teams that he ever played for.”
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