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Framlingham fund-raiser for talented 18-year-old footballer reaches more than £13,000



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A football coach has praised people’s generosity after a fund-raiser set up in the days following a promising Suffolk footballer’s death reached more than £13,000 within a week.

Ricky Preacher set up a GoFundMe page to help the family of Sonny Whittle with his funeral costs after he died of throat cancer on June 20, at the age of 18.

The coach had seen Sonny, who was originally from Laxfield, rise through the ranks at Framlingham Town Football Club.

Sonny Whittle, left, was pushing for a place in the reserves at Framlingham Town Football Club. Picture submitted by Framlingham Football Club
Sonny Whittle, left, was pushing for a place in the reserves at Framlingham Town Football Club. Picture submitted by Framlingham Football Club

Having first played at under-14/15 level, he went on to star for the under-18s in the Thurlow Nunn Midweek League and the A side, where he was pushing for a place in the reserves.

Mr Preacher said: “Football wise, he was a really good player and one we had such high hopes for.

“As a person, he was the nicest and most genuine kid, a quiet, hard-working lad who, over the last couple of years, had really come out of his shell. Everybody thought the world of him.”

Sonny Whittle, right, was hoping to go to university in Lincoln in September. Picture: Framlingham Football Club
Sonny Whittle, right, was hoping to go to university in Lincoln in September. Picture: Framlingham Football Club

The coach said that Sonny had a lump on his neck when he played for him at the end of April, but told him it was fine.

But, after having tests in the middle of May and finding out it was an usually fast cancer, he died four weeks later.

“It has taken everybody by surprise,” said Mr Preacher. “It is one of those things that came completely out of the blue.

“It has hit his team-mates really hard, as well as his family and friends.”

It is also hoped a memorial match in Sonny’s honour will take place in August, with a party at the club to celebrate his life. Picture submitted by Framlingham Football Club
It is also hoped a memorial match in Sonny’s honour will take place in August, with a party at the club to celebrate his life. Picture submitted by Framlingham Football Club

The former Stradbroke High School pupil had been studying at Suffolk One sixth-form college in Ipswich and was hoping to go to university in Lincoln in September.

“That was one of the last things we spoke about,” said Mr Preacher, who said he felt he had to do something to help Sonny’s family after the youngster died.

He said: “It has blown me and his family away. I set up the fundraising page on the Tuesday after Sonny was gone and it hit £1,500 in about 20 minutes – it has just been incredible.

“There are all kinds of people – some we do not even know – who have donated. I guess it is that sort of thing, whether you have a child or have been touched by cancer in some way, that it connects to so many.”

The money will go towards the teenager’s funeral, with Sonny’s family wanting any extra to go to St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich, which looked after him in his final weeks.

“The nurses who looked after Sonny were incredible and I know his family will forever be grateful for the way they looked after him,” said Mr Preacher.

It is also hoped a memorial match in Sonny’s honour will take place in August, with a party at the club to celebrate his life.

Mr Preacher said he wanted to thank those who had donated to the fund so far.

He said: “I know it means so much to the family and everyone connected with Sonny.

“It shows them how well thought of he was, for what little comfort that might be and all of this has been gratifying in that sense.”

Sonny leaves behind his mum, dad, two brothers and a sister.

His funeral will take place in St Andrew’s Church in Wingfield on July 12 at 2pm.

To donate, go to gofund.me/42865da3.



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