Diss community rallies to support popular ‘little star’ severely injured in accident

Sam James. Photo: Sam James.
Sam James. Photo: Sam James.

The Diss community has rallied together to support a popular 19-year-old badly injured in a swimming accident.

Sam James, from Diss, is at the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre in Sheffield, and posted a message of thanks after town residents launched a fundraising appeal to aid his recovery, which has already generated more than £4,500.

The annual cycle ride from The Saracen's Head, raising funds for the East  Anglian Air Ambulance, was followed by a barbecue to generate funds for Sam James' appeal. Photo: Tracy Allen.

The annual cycle ride from The Saracen's Head, raising funds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, was followed by a barbecue to generate funds for Sam James' appeal. Photo: Tracy Allen.

The first fundraiser was held at The Saracen’s Head on Sunday, with more planned at The Waterfront Inn and The Cock Inn.

Writing on the JustGiving page set up in the wake of his injury, which has so far raised £1,600, he said it had been “so heartwarming at this tough time to know everyone has joined together and been so generous.”

The fundraising charity cycle by the Saracen’s Head on Sunday was followed by a barbecue and raffle, raising a total of £3,000.

Corina Farrell, who helped organise the day, described Sam as a “little star”.

He has known my son for quite a while and he is genuinely lovely – he’s a really nice boy

Sarah Carpenter, manager, Waterfront Inn

“Sam is an angel,” she said. “He is a little darling. It is really important that the community rallies, and not just for the person who has been affected and their family. It’s important for the community to get together and Diss does do that.

“I think it is absolutely fantastic what the pubs are doing.”

Her son, Billy Ellwood, will be one of a number of Sam’s friends who are part of a fundraising day at the Waterfront Inn, Mere Street, on Saturday. There will be a raffle, cake stall during the day, a wacky races betting night, and a wheelbarrow of wine and spirits up for grabs. Sam’s dad Paul will be shaving off his hair and beard on Friday, with fund-raising already at £500.

Waterfront Inn manager Sarah Carpenter said they hoped to Facetime Sam during Saturday night’s waxing.

The annual cycle ride from The Saracen's Head, raising funds for the East  Anglian Air Ambulance, was followed by a barbecue to generate funds for Sam James' appeal. Photo: Tracy Allen.

The annual cycle ride from The Saracen's Head, raising funds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, was followed by a barbecue to generate funds for Sam James' appeal. Photo: Tracy Allen.

“Sam is lovely,” she said. “He has known my son for quite a while and he is genuinely lovely – he’s a really nice boy.

“The main focus is not what we are doing – it is all about what his friends are doing. We are just giving them a venue, and pushing them in a direction.”

On August 13, there is a charity cycle by the Cock Inn. It costs £5 per person, register at the pub in Denmark Street. For more visit the pub’s Facebook page.

To donate to Sam’s recovery appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gemma-carey