Thrashers and Cardinals to host Charity Game for Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund

A fundraising event is being held in Southampton to help to raise money for The Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.

The Solent Thrashers American Football Club, in partnership with the Ipswich Cardinals American Football Club will be participating in their first annual charity event on 29th September 2018 in Southampton.

The event will aim to involve the whole community where all funds raised will be donated in full to the ‘Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund’.

A little background on the charity selected:

The Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund was set up to help local charities and other veterans in the memory of Lee following his tragic death after his struggles with PTSD. This was a charity that was close to the heart of a member of both the Cardinals and Thrashers family, Ex-Army Captain Christopher Butcher who served in the Royal Artillery. In late 2017, the Thrashers and Cardinals families were rocked when Christopher sadly lost his life. Chris was a hero who proudly served his country and it is our honour to raise money for a cause that meant so much to him.

On the day of the event, we will have activities for every age and enough going on for a wholesome enjoyable day’s outing including live music, exhibitions, activities, hospitality stalls, visit from the emergency services and much more. The main event will be an American Football Testimonial game between the Solent Thrashers and Ipswich Cardinals which will kickoff at 14:00.

When asked about the event, Ed Butcher, younger brother of Chris said,

“I learnt about American football from my older brother Chris. We both fell in love with it on our times in American on holiday. When Chris went to University in Glasgow it was with no great shock that he took on the challenge and threw himself into the sport. Watching him when I was younger I was in awe of him, and his aggressive and brutal nature on the field, followed by his kindness and friendliness off the field.

From watching him I knew I wanted to play the sport and when I decided to go to university for that reason I could understand his love for such a fantastic sport. When Chris was struggling and in need of some way to help himself, I suggested that he gets back into American football, and he did.

He joined the Ipswich Cardinals and fell in with the team straight away. I was so proud of him for getting back into what he loved and gives me some peace that when he passed away he was part of a team that he held in such high esteem. We have put this game on in his honour and to allow both teams to celebrate such an incredible player and help raise money for a cause that needs more attention.”

Ali Butcher, Chris’s youngest brother added,

“It was because of Christopher that our family became obsessed with American Football. I remember the intensity with which Chris and I would play Madden NFL on the PlayStation; controllers would fly when a Hail Mary pass got completed in the last few seconds. This was the extent of my experience with American Football, sitting comfortably in my home while stuffing my face with food and dictating blitzes and utterly ridiculous run plays. I never thought I would get the opportunity to play it for real. I was lucky enough that this opportunity came my way when Edward asked me to play alongside him, in potentially his last season before retiring.

With Christopher passing I felt the time was right. I could see how much the Ipswich Cardinals had accepted him and made him part of the team. I needed the same experience while I was going through the grieving process, something to commit to and to distract me. The Solent Thrashers accepted me with open arms and it was overwhelming. I had huge shoes to fill because of Ed and I went in determined to do my best. To start on the O Line in my rookie year was a huge milestone and to play with Ed next to me was a life goal.

I understand more why Chris enjoyed playing the sport, it is not just making new friends and pushing yourself; it also about being accepted for who you are as a player and as a person. Before a game I think about Chris, I think about him when I lace up his old boots, put on his pads and tape up limbs like he would have done. I think about him when on the field and how he is probably judging my stance and technique. I believe he is there watching Ed and I play and cheering us on. I got the opportunity to get to know more about my brother and why he enjoyed this game so much. It is not just about hitting people, creating runs and having a social, it was more about being part of a family.”

Both the Thrashers and Cardinals families would like to invite you down to Test Park Sports Ground, Southampton, SO16 9JD from 10:00  till 17:00.

Admission is free with all-day parking on site for £2.

For those who wish to support this great cause but cannot make it on the day, please visit our JustGiving page for more information.




Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1