Hundreds of local blokes joined the first ever Men’s Rugby Ramble on Sunday (February 23) for North Devon Hospice.

Richard Hudson and Simon Downing walked from Bradworthy to take part in the Men's Rugby Ramble in memory or their friend. Picture: NDHRichard Hudson and Simon Downing walked from Bradworthy to take part in the Men's Rugby Ramble in memory or their friend. Picture: NDH

The event, sponsored by Boden Group, was a sell-out and saw men take on a six-mile sponsored walk (complete with beer stops for rehydration) before finishing at Barnstaple Rugby Club to enjoy the crunch Six Nations game between England and Ireland.

Two men even walked from Bradworthy, setting off at 1am to be at the start line at 9am.

It is hoped that as much as £20,000 could be raised, once all sponsorship is collected, which will help local people going through the toughest times.

Gerard Fawcitt, from North Devon Hospice, said it was a day to remember. He said: "We're humbled by the way local guys have got behind the Men's Rugby Ramble, making it a complete sell-out.

The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHThe first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH

"They obviously knew it was going to be a fantastic day, with a pasty at the start, three free beers on route, then a curry to enjoy at his finish. We were even treated to a fantastic England win in the rugby!

"It's been a day of great camaraderie and it's been lovely to see some great conversations taking place along the walk and over a beer. We'd like to thank our headline sponsors Boden Group, and all the other local companies who supported the event, for making this possible."

One pair from Bradworthy had extra motivation for taking part, as they were walking for their friend Simon Granville-Jones, who was being supported by the hospice, but sadly passed away just days before the event.

His two good friends, Simon Downing and Richard Hudson, decided to add an extra layer of difficulty to their walk, in order to raise even more money for the hospice after the care provided to their friend in his final months.

The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHThe first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH

Simon Downing said: "We thought we'd walk to the start line in Barnstaple overnight, then tackle the Men's Rugby Ramble when we got there.

"We left Bradworthy at 1am and we just kept walking from there. It was very windy through the night, but we completed the 25 mile walk and made it here at about 9am."

Richard added: "Simon Granville-Jones was a good friend of ours, and he was the face of the Men's Rugby Ramble, having done a great deal with the hospice to promote the event.

"So when he passed away only a few days ago, we thought it would be fitting to start our walk from his house in Bradworthy."

The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHThe first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH

Simon continued: "He was very keen for us to get involved in the Men's Rugby Ramble, because North Devon Hospice helped him a lot towards the end of his life and made him much more comfortable.

"So he was keen for as many of his friends as possible to get involved and there's a big group of us taking part today. We know what he got from the hospice, as well as his wife Sarah too. He was full of praise for the care they received so we're more than happy to do this to support the cause."

Find out how you can support those being cared for by the hospice by visiting northdevonhospice.org.uk.

The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHThe first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH

The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHThe first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH

England success: The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHEngland success: The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH

The first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDHThe first ever Men's Rugby Ramble for North Devon Hospice. Picture: NDH