Funds raised for race tragedy dad

Neil with wife June on their way to the race
Neil with wife June on their way to the race

Hundreds of pounds have been raised for the family of a man who died tragically during a charity fun run.

Neil Rigby was taking part in the annual colour run at Pennington Flash on Sunday afternoon when he collapsed unexpectedly.

Paramedics and an air ambulance were quick to the scene but sadly, despite resuscitation attempts, the Highfield 47-year-old passed away at the event.

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The Manchester United fan was taking part in the family fund-raiser which is held every year in aid of Wigan and Leigh Hospice and Wigan Warriors Community Foundation.

His daughter, Stacey Rigby, told the Wigan Post that her dad has always and will always be “so loved by everyone”.

“My dad was the heart of our family and our whole world has been turned upside down and will never be the same,” she said. “We are truly broken and we will miss him so much.

“He was a happy, loving family man who adored his six grandchildren. The family would like to say thank you to everybody who helped yesterday from the bottom of our broken hearts.”

Hundreds of messages of condolences have poured in from people across the borough, many of whom attended the event on Sunday and saw Mr Rigby receiving medical attention.

A fundraising page has also been set up to help the family with funeral costs. More than £700 of the £1,000 target has already been donated by the public.

Grace Hill, who set up the appeal, has written: “As you can imagine this is a devastating time for the family so if we can all help even a little with the financial pressures of a funeral at this devastating time to try and make it just a little easier for his family it will be highly appreciated.

“Anyone who had the honour of knowing Neil will know just how caring and giving he was. He would do anything for anyone and always did it with a smile. Every little helps no matter how big or small in supporting his family who he adored.”

The family, which is originally from Beech Hill, have reminisced on fond memories of a “funny” husband, dad and grandad, who had a love of football and playing Candy Crush.

“He was just so loving,” added Stacey. “He always put his family first and adored his grandchildren. He was funny and always had us in stitches but all we have now is an empty chair where he was always sat.

“He was loved by us all and always will be.”

Wigan Warriors Community Foundation and the hospice released a joint statement following the tragedy, saying: “We are deeply saddened to confirm the death of a participant in the Wigan and Leigh 5k colour run.

“We would like to express our condolences to his family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this time.”

Family friends have also shared their support via social media. One man, using his daughter’s account, wrote: “Sorry to hear about your dad, he was a top bloke and a top neighbour.”

Another friend, Dan Mulligan, wrote: “Neil Rigby what are you playing at pal you have actually made me cry man. I’ve got a weight on my chest that am struggling to put back on the rack.

“Actually can’t remember a conversation between us that hasn’t involved laughter, I don’t click with many but am honoured to have called you a friend. My heart goes out to your family.”