The tragic death of a Fakenham teenager has sparked fundraising plans for memorial collections, benches, rugby matches, skydives and even marathons to be run in his honour.
Craig Prior died suddenly on Monday night leaving family and friends devastated but determined to fulfil his dreams of raising enough to replace Fakenham Rugby Club’s scrummage machine.
His brother, Roger Palmer, 34, said: “Craig was very passionate about his rugby and his friends and was determined to raise enough to buy the club a new scrummage machine, which he felt was needed to help the club move on.”
The 18-year-old had grown up in Fakenham surrounded by family, including his older brother and sister, Lisa Macdonald, 31, his mother, Tina, 60, and his father, Andrew, 47.
A student of Fakenham Infant School, Junior School and then Fakenham High School, Craig had a huge group of friends and was always be the first in line to help them out.
His mum said: “If one of his friends every needed him, he would drop everything to be there for them. They were all really important to him.
“He was always smiling and happy, in every picture he has a big smile on his face and it’s heartbreaking to know I’ll never see that smile again.”
Craig left school at 16 to begin a carpentry apprenticeship with Fisher Bullen in his home town, training through the Carter Academy and studying at Lynn’s College of West Anglia.
John Turkentine, general manager of Fisher Bullen, said: “Craig was a talented trainee carpenter who worked hard and was always cheerful in everything he did. He will be sadly missed.”
At the age of 10, Craig began playing for Fakenham RUFC and just three years later was asked to train and play for Norfolk, where he stayed for two years. He was also asked to join the Elite Player Development League, which saw him training with the Leicester Tigers for two years.
Tina said: “He always told us he would have loved to have played professionally. He never stopped trying.”
Craig also volunteered at the club, where his dad, Andrew, worked as a bar manager, and played on the second team before moving to the first team later in the season.
Joe Bane-Young, first team captain for Fakenham RUFC, said: “Craig really loved the game. He would help mark out the pitch, and anytime the club needed anything, he would always be the first one there. He was just such an amazing guy.”
Now family and friends are hoping to work together to raise the money needed to pay for a memorial bench at the club in Craig’s memory, and to replace the scrummage machine.
If you would like to help, leave a message for Roger on 07880 728412, or call Joe on 07828 707929.