BOREDOM lead to a Milford Haven man raising almost £3,000 for Cancer Research on just one night.
Craig Smith, 27, served in the Royal Air Force and completed tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. He now has a job as a logistics co-ordinator on oil rigs in the North Sea, but found the work provides a less stimulating environment!
“Towards the end of 2013 my girlfriend, Tanya-Marie Bowen, told me one of her closest friends had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. Thankfully it was caught at an early stage so things are ok now,” said Craig. “I work nights in the North Sea and I was getting bored. There’s nobody at home to talk too at 3am in the morning. I thought I needed something to do to keep me occupied that didn’t involve online shopping for the girlfriend’s Christmas presents, so I had a look on the internet to see what people did to raise money.”
In the beginning, Craig – who has played Rugby for Milford Haven since the age of six – decided he would organise a simple party at the Rugby Club, and give all the money raised on the door to Cancer Research. But before he knew it, the event began to snowball in to an extravaganza.
“This plan changed rapidly. It all got out of hand!” said Craig. “We put posters up and advertised it on Facebook. Before I knew it, I was getting random people I didn’t know contacting me asking for tickets. We could have easily sold the Rugby Club out three times over.”
Clearly bitten by the fundraising bug, Craig contacted rugby and football clubs across the UK, asking for signed memorabilia he could auction off at the party.
“Swansea City FC invited me to the stadium to pick up a signed jersey, and Manchester United sent me a football signed by the team,” he said. “Nathan "Gully" Williams, who plays for the Newport Gwent Dragons, took a shirt to training and got that signed for me. We were also given a 1970's Welsh rugby ball signed by the team which included JPR Williams.”
Craig even “sold” two of his mates, Gareth and Jonathon Fawcett, with the idea the boys would take the highest bidder out on a date.
“Needless to say, the top bidder was their mother, Jane, who bought her sons for £300,” said Craig. “I don’t think they've taken her on the date yet though!”
He was also contacted by Port Talbot Drag Queen Leslie Lush, who offered to perform on the night, free of charge.
“She was brilliant,” said Craig. “Everyone was in tears of laughter.”
On a roll, Craig roped his friends in to take part in a talent show. Sophie Adams sang, Sean Griffiths’ ‘Unison Dance’ group performed and Ginger Greenish put on a superb Elvis Presley impersonation.
“I’d like to say a special thank you to Ginger for helping with the event,” said Craig. “He managed to get the signed rugby ball and put lots of effort into helping me make the night happen. I’d also like to thank all the bar staff who worked so hard on the night, and Milford Haven RFC for letting us have the club, and putting on the door staff free of charge.”
The night ended up raking in a whopping £2895, and Craig has decided to make it an annual event.
“I've got a few ideas in mind for next year,” he mused. “I hope it will be bigger and better.”
If this year’s party is anything to go by, when tickets for the 2015 event go on sale it’s advisable to buy yours early!