Sports Shots are happy to support the James Bowyer Football Match this year.
Sam Caldwell-Smith, one the driving forces behind the annual game, has written this heartfelt article.
Have you ever lost someone from a completely avoidable situation? I have. If you could help to stop it happening to someone else, would you?
I’m writing to you in order to share my story and create some much needed awareness about an incredibly serious yet avoidable problem: road safety.
On the 1st of June 2008, I lost my three best friends and almost a fourth, all aged 18, in a fatal car crash. One single moment cost them their lives. As the car travelled at speed, control of it for a split second was lost, and the car collided with a tree. Three of the five died on impact and two miraculously survived it, but only one made it to hospital in time.
I can’t begin to express the difficulty I have in acknowledging that this has taken place in my life. I am now almost 24, having spent the last six years without my best friends, and the pain seems to become harder with the more I experience. I would do anything to have them back and to take away the pain that I’ve witnessed enduring in mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends.
One thing I always say is that we were lucky to have known them, so should be happy we did, and we should not concentrate on the pain of losing them.
But I challenge anyone to show me they can do that easily.
I was spoiled to have had the best friends I could have possibly asked for: they were kind, smart, funny and caring and had genuine prospects for decent lives and careers, and yet they had their lives ripped away and left mine torn apart. James Bowyer was born on the 12th of November 1989. I first met him in 1993 at play school in a small village called Marsh Gibbon, not far from Oxford.
After watching him get sand thrown in his face, I intervened and we became best friends and continued to be until he died. We grew up like brothers, always in the same class, always in the same trouble! We shared a lot of amazing times together and thankfully not too many that seem sad in comparison to what his family have experienced.
Every year since his passing I have organised a fundraising football match, normally held in August in the very same village we grew up in. Each year his former under 16s team get back together and play a game against a team of friends and family, which I captain. As he was an Arsenal fan, the team is aptly named James’ Gunners.
Every year I’ve managed to make it bigger, better, and to raise more money for various causes close to our hearts: the primary school we attended, the local tennis and football clubs we spent hours during childhood at, and, as of last year, we’ve given the money to the road safety charity, Brake, raising almost £2000 at our last event.
Brake is an amazing charity, constantly looking for ways to improve road safety and the awareness and importance of it. They are recognised all over the UK and even offer a helpline for people who’ve experienced tragedy as I have.
This year I have a tall order to make the event an improvement on last year’s, when a signed Manchester United shirt raised £500 alone in the silent auction, and over £800 was taken in raffle tickets. In order to get the event off the ground in the past, I have personally spent upwards of £500, with a firm commitment to making it grow and to raising more money.
I’m looking for some help this year and am wondering if my event would be a cause worthy enough for you to be interested in sponsoring or contributing to in any way you might find appropriate.
I believe that the event really helps James’ father, seeing upwards of 150 people each year caring enough to show their support and to celebrate James’ short life. I also believe it serves as an example to others in how to honour life, and how to raise community support and spirit in times of crisis. Living on the outskirts of a tiny village in Oxfordshire, his family are a wonderful group of people, and if I can somehow ease their pain, the event will feel like a success. I’ve seen a father of 6’4″ an inconsolable mess because he’s lost his only son, and I assure you it’s not something you want to see happen to your worst enemy. If you’ve got this far through this lengthy email, I thank you. I’m not looking to do anything more than celebrate my best friend’s life and memory while raising some money for a charity in an unique position to try and stop anything like this happening to anyone else.
If you feel like it’s something you’d like to offer your help with, I can’t tell you how much I’d appreciate it.
If you’d like any more details about the event please don’t hesitate to contact me, night or day. I’ll be more than happy to offer as much information as I can.
Thanks once again for taking the time to read this.And if you’d like to donate but can’t make the day here is our just giving page: