Teenager Sam James’ heartfelt thanks as community rallies round after swimming accident

Fundraisers at The Saracen's Head in Diss raise over £1500 in aid of Sam James. Picture: Tracey Alle

Fundraisers at The Saracen's Head in Diss raise over £1500 in aid of Sam James. Picture: Tracey Allen - Credit: Archant

A popular teenager seriously injured in a swimming accident has given a heartfelt thanks to a community which has rallied round to help his recovery.

Sam James. picture Sam James

Sam James. picture Sam James - Credit: Archant

Sam James said it was 'heartwarming at this tough time to know everyone has joined together and been so generous' after friends and relatives started a fundraising campaign for his treatment, which has already raised more than £4,000.

The 19-year-old, from Diss, wrote the message on a JustGiving page set up in his honour as he recovers from what could be a life-changing neck injury at the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre in Sheffield.

Whilst the extent of the 19-year-old's injuries is not yet clear, the community of his home town is coming together to raise money in aid of his recovery - with £3,000 already raised in just one weekend.

The fundraising page set up after the accident also raised £1,000 within days.

The charity fundraising bike ride in aid EAAA sets of across Diss market square: picture: Tracey All

The charity fundraising bike ride in aid EAAA sets of across Diss market square: picture: Tracey Allen - Credit: Archant

Three pubs - The Saracens Head, The Waterfront Inn and The Cock Inn - are all holding fundraising events in aid of Sam's Road to Recovery.

The first pub to hold an event, The Saracen's Head, has set the bar high with its £3,000 fundraising total.

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On Sunday, July 30 following its annual charity bike ride in aid of The East Anglian Air Ambulance, the pub hosted an 'all you can eat' barbecue and raffle in aid of the 19-year-old.

Paul Gunning, a close family friend of the James', described the reaction from the community as 'a reflection on how lovely the family is - you couldn't ask for more genuine people'.

He added: 'Sam is one of those lads whose personality is just really likeable.'

Di McGeever, a friend of Sam's mother Angie James, added: 'I think it's just really good how the community has pulled together. The family have been really moved.'

Friends of the former Diss High School pupil have also expressed how important it is to them to support their friend.

Will Calton said: 'Bad things happen to good people and he's one of the best.

'It's not going to be easy for him - which is why everyone needs to do what they can to raise money and support him through his journey.

'There is light as the end of the tunnel.'

George Colson, another of Sam's friends, said: 'People have always said we are like brothers, for the same cheeky attitude and occasional misbehaviour - but at the same time we've always been there for each other.'

The second of the three pubs to hold a fundraising event will be The Waterfront Inn, in Mere Street.

Preparations are already underway for a day of fundraising activities on Saturday, August 5, culminating in a whacky races night, raffle and friends of Sam offering to be waxed in aid of their friend's cause.

The Waterfront Inn's manager, Sarah Carpenter - whose son is a friend of Sam - said: 'Sam is such a lovely boy, everyone really likes him.

'The reaction and support we've had from people since starting the fundraising has been a little overwhelming.'

'Sam's got a fabulous group of friends and all of this is just a really positive, it's making a difference in the right direction.'

During the day the pub will be holding a cake sale and sell raffle tickets for a prize auction and wheelbarrow of spirits and wine.

On Sunday, August 13 The Cock Inn in Fair Green, Diss will be hosting a sponsored cycle ride and barbecue in aid of Sam.

Over 35 people have already signed up to the 25-mile cycle ride.

With more people signing up every day, organisers are keen to welcome anyone who would like to take part.

Anyone interested in joining the cycle ride can find out more information on The Cock Inn's facebook page or pop into the pub to register for £5.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gemma-carey?utm_id=107