THE family and friends of Newarthill’s Gary Lonie were devastated when he took his own life last year – now they are raising money for the charity that helped them cope with their grief.
A football match is being held in the new Ravenscraig sports centre in memory of the 28-year-old, with all the proceeds going to People Experiencing Trauma and Loss.
The Scottish Womens’ national squad will be taking on a select team who knew Gary at the county facility.
And the organisers are hoping that people will come out in their numbers to support a terrific charity and see a cracking game of football.
Newarthill’s Rhonda Jones plays with Scotland and is also the aunt of Gary’s daughter.
Rhonda says that she is delighted that her international teammates are able to turn out on Saturday, September 3, for such a good cause, one that is close to her heart.
Defender Rhonda, who has been capped 86 times for her country, told the Wishaw Press this week: “This is a problem so many people have to suffer through and it is a wonderful story of a community coming together to show their support.
“Last September we lost a loved one, Gary William Lonie of Newarthill, aged only 28-years-old, to suicide.
“He left my young sister with his four-year-old daughter and his family and friends devastated, wondering why.
“Finding it difficult to come to terms with this and searching for help was extremely difficult.
“The only help available, which people who have already endured this will know is speaking to someone over the phone.
“All other counselling services won’t see families suffering from loss until six months after the passing.
“After weeks of searching we finally found a place in Hamilton called PETAL – People Experiencing Trauma and Loss.
“These amazing people help families through the pain caused by the loss of family members to murder or suicide.
“They offer face-to-face free counselling and therapy treatments.
“We decided that it was important that we gave back to this non-profit group for their love and kindness that helped us get through our darkest moments.
“For almost a whole year we have been organising a charity memorial football match in honour of Gary and to raise money for PETAL.
“This match will be played at 5pm on September 3 at the Ravenscraig sports centre.
“The Scottish Womens’ National Team, which I play for, will play against a Gary’s 11 select team of his friends and family and we are hoping there will be a really good turnout from the public to show their support.”
Scotland have a couple of international friendlies lined up in September before they start their European Championship qualifying campaign in October, so the select team can expect a tough game.
The fundraisers got the money to pay for the select team’s strips by collecting old CDs and DVDs and exchanging them for cash on a website called Music Magpie. After getting almost 1000 discs together they were able to buy some fantastic Umbro strips and still have money left over for the charity kitty.
There will be some fantastic prizes up for grabs on the day too, with Rhonda saying: “We have collected items from members of the community and companies to raffle so we can raise more money, such as a signed Rangers and a signed Celtic top, a pair of signed Andy Goram gloves, an A2 framed original photograph of the Ally and Gazza goal celebration, a Parkhead tour for four, bottles of Revolution Vodka and other spirits, a night’s stay and meal at a top Glasgow Hotel and many other great prizes.”
Tickets are available in various Newarthill stores in and will also be on sale at the match. The winners will be drawn during the after match gathering at the Orb Pub in Bellshill.
Rhonda said: “At the Orb our DJ Johnny Gray will be playing and local X-Factor 2010 finalist Sinead Henderson will also be performing.
“We will be collecting donations at the game which is free to come along to and at the Orb which all are welcome to attend. We are expecting a crowd of around 300 plus in support at the moment and hopefully with your help we can attract more people to come along.
Visit www.petalsupport.com to learn more about PETAL and the work it does.