Former Sackville School student Matthew Cox who died a month short of his 22nd birthday had so many loyal friends, a fundraising campaign in his memory already stands at 20 times its original target.
Matthew, whose death on August 24 last year was connected with epilepsy, was a talented cricketer who followed in the footsteps of his father, Tim by playing for Edenbridge Cricket Club.
Hundreds of schoolfriends and fellow players wanted to remember him by raising the £3,000 needed for an electronic cricket scoreboard.
But the campaign proved so popular, it has now reached £57,376 and is still climbing. Tim and club colleagues have now raised their sights and hope to raise enough to build a new pavilion, estimated at between £200,000 and £250,000.
Tim, from Stephenson Drive, East Grinstead said: “Six weeks after we started it was clear we would massively exceed the target. We discussed it with the club chairman. For some time the club has needed a new pavilion - the old one was adequate but it was built in the 1960s and was nearing the end of its life. We thought we could help in a big way and the club said it will be called the Matt Cox Pavilion. Since starting, we have formed a committee and engaged the local community.”
Once they reach the £100,000 mark they can call on funding bodies such as Kent County Cricket Club, Sport England and the England and Wales Cricket Board. Moneyraising events have already yielded a huge response and more are planned, including ‘the Coxy Soiree,’ a black tie and ballgown gala ball on September 17 at East Grinstead Sports Club.
Matthew’s talent was spotted early - from 11-12 he played for Kent and was involved with Sussex, travelling to Dubai with his team. Tim, 55, played for Edenbridge himself and his two sons, Matthew and elder brother Daniel also played for the club.
Tim went on: “When they said a new pavilion could be named after him, you could have knocked me down with a feather. We wanted something everyone could see and use.
“We have a thriving junior section with 70-80 kids from age seven upwards. People he went to school with and their families are amazing - one mum ran the London Marathon and another the Edinburgh Marathon. I’m humbled by their generosity. It’s going to be a long project but will prove a huge benefit for members and visiting teams.”
A planning application has been submitted to Sevenoaks District Council and Matthew’s family hope it can be a permanent reminder of their talented son which also serves the sport he loved.