Date chosen for sports day to remember soldierBy Amy Taylor
December 17, 2012
THE date has been set for a sports event in memory of a former soldier who died last Christmas, as the anniversary of his death approaches.
Steve Chapman, a lifelong Aldershot Town supporter, was found dead on the railway line near Winchfield station last December 27, aged 33. The coroner recorded an open verdict in March.
For three years before his death he organised a sports day for Aldershot fans, an event which has been continued in his name.
Close friend Darryl Jelly decided to rename the event The Steve Chapman Annual Sports Day ahead of the event in May, and together with help from Steve’s fiancée, Jackie Jones, they raised more than £1,000 for Help for Heroes.
But the event has outgrown its venue, and will move from the Ivy Road grounds to Aldershot Park on June 29.
“Last year was the first year without Steve and the first year for charity,” said Darryl. “We used it as a get-together for Aldershot fans, and people would walk through asking what was happening. People were saying it was fantastic, that they didn’t know Steve had done it when he was alive.
“A bigger venue will attract more attention.”
The success of the event, combined with the shock of losing Steve, had been a ‘bit overwhelming’ for all involved, he admitted. “It’s brought a lot of people closer together. It’s hard for 200 guys who go and play football week in, week out to express much emotion that isn’t football-related. It’s quite a close-knit community that has been very generous, not just with money but with what they have given to us.”
Football, cricket and rounders are on the agenda, with family entertainment including face painting, raffles and a tombola. The proceeds will be split between Help for Heroes and Combat Stress, which works with soldiers suffering mental health problems caused by the trauma of active service.
Steve had been treated for mental illness following his military career, 10 years before he died, but was taken into the care of doctors at Frimley Park Hospital again in September last year. “Help for Heroes is obviously a great charity and we love it, but Combat Stress is more related to Steve,” said Darryl. “There’s more pressure because we want to raise a good total for each charity.”