Big family day in memory of Haywards Heath officer

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Friends of a policeman who died in a motorcycle crash will host a charitable strongman competition and fun day in his memory.

Joel Devalda, from Haywards Heath, died in a motorcycle accident in College Road on April 4, at the age of 33.

His friend Scott Moore, 37, from Haywards Heath, has since pulled the community together to turn the tragic incident into something positive.

He has worked with Joel’s other friends at Switch Gym, in The Orchards, to organise a big event in his memory to raise funds for Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance.

The father-of-three explained why he felt he needed to do something after the tragic event.

Scott said: “It was a real shock when it happened. It cut a little bit close to the bone for me. It’s someone I know that works for the police, that went to my gym and we lived in the same area so I wanted to try to do something positive.”

Chris Patch, director at Switch Gym, said he was honoured to be a part of the memorial event.

“He always supported the club and the members especially through other strongman events that we have run.

“To this end we have decided to name our winners cup the ‘Joel Devalda cup’ to honour his memory and to ensure that he stays within our club and our hearts for ever.”

The event will take place at the Woodside Pavilion on the Tim Farmer Recreation Ground, Bolnore, on June 13, from 10.30am. and will revolve around the gym’s annual strongman competition.

The winner will be awarded the ‘Joel Devalda Cup’. Entry will cost £20 and entrants will be challenged in the farmers walk, log lift, car/van pull, tyre flip and medley.

Mr Patch added: “Joel was one of the most popular members of our fitness family and would always cheer up the room with his presence.

“He love loved lifting as heavy as he could but would always encourage others no matter what level of strength they had.

“He had always planned on entering the competition this year and the events that I have chosen are all among his favourites, including the van pull.

“There will be five events all testing the competitors strength and will to succeed, We have 10 spaces open in the event and all entrants must apply via the gym before the day as no entrants will be accepted at the event.

“Switch Gym is extremely honoured to be asked to help out with this day, and we look forward to being part of something that is honouring a guy that was such a large part of our family.”

Speaking about how Joel might have reacted to knowing an event was being hosted in his memory Scott said: “I imagine he would be quite embarrassed but chuffed.

“Lots of businesses are getting involved in the effort. I think he was quite well known in the area, by lots of different members of the community. He was quite a large character!”

Local businesses have volunteered to sponsor the event, provide their services for free or donate prizes.

Cuckfield Cosmos FC has donated a signed pair of boots as a prize and Crawley Town FC donated a pair of match day hospitality tickets

To get involved search ‘The Bolnore Fundraiser in memory of Joel Devalda’ on Facebook.