Ball game steward’s wife Stacey Kellegher-Burton: My thanks to the ‘kind people of Atherstone for your support over Martyn’

  Posted: 02.03.20 at 07:26 by Nick Hudson

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The wife of a steward left critical from cardiac episodes that led organisers to halt Atherstone Ball Game for the first time in living memory has been “overwhelmed” by the generosity of well-wishers from a support fund.

A JustGiving page that hit its initial target within two hours is closing in on the new total of £5,000 for long-serving official Martin Kellegher-Burton’s family as he faces up to a “likely life-changing” condition.

The 38-year-old was taken ill midway through the 821st running of the Shrovetide event going back to the days of King Richard the Lionheart and paramedics reportedly twice revived the father-of-two inside the ball game headquarters at Atherstone Conservative Club

His wife, Stacey, has spoken of the “kind people of Atherstone” – sending a massive ‘thank you’ for all the messages of support for her stricken husband who was airlifted from Tuesday’s event to the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

In a statement on Atherstone People’s Forum last night, she said: “To the first responders, paramedics and air ambulance I thank you from the bottom of my heart .

“To the fantastic nurses and doctors whom are currently looking after Martyn now, I thank you deeply.

“To both our families who are doing everything to support us both. We love you

“To our friends whom again have offered their support with shopping, lifts and dinners, I thank you.

“Also for the JustGiving page that has been set up, I’m am honestly overwhelmed by how you have all pulled together to support us. I thank you all.”

The page, begun with the support of the Atherstone Ball Game’s new committee, initially set a modest target of £821 – £1 for every year the event has been run since 1199.

That was raised to £1,821 and now has been lifted to £5,000 and comes with the stark message that the cardiac episodes are “likely to be life-changing for Martyn”, who has two children aged three and just 12 weeks.

This morning it was more than three-quarters there at £4,310.

Hundreds of townsfolk have taken to social media forums to offer encouragement to “keep up the fight” on a hoped-for road to recovery for Mr Kellegher-Burton.

Described as “one of the nicest people”, the long-serving steward collapsed after asking for a glass of water in the event headquarters around 4pm last Tuesday.

It is not known whether the event has ever been brought to a halt for a reason not involving players or the ball.

While fire, floods, tempest, two world wars and legislation – in the form of the Highways Act 1835 which saw Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s government determined to stamp out violent games in the streets of Britain – have failed to halt the event over ten centuries, this year’s secretary Janneen Bernard decided to act by bringing the ball game to a dramatic end after realising the seriousness of the official’s condition.

Mrs Kellegher-Burton added: “Martyn is still very poorly and as you can imagine I am just trying my best to support him and also play mum too.”

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