A North Devon football team has raised more than £2,000 to help one of their teammates recover from a stroke.

Park United, pictured after winning the North Devon Premier in 2018. Picture: Rob BatesPark United, pictured after winning the North Devon Premier in 2018. Picture: Rob Bates

Park United players past and present rallied to support Sean Downing after the 28-year-old suffered a stroke at his home last month.

While he spends the majority of his playing time with Bideford AFC, Downing often plays for North Devon Premier champions Park when he has the chance.

With messages of support flooding in, Park United’s Steve Skinner organised a whip-round among his club contacts.

The club, with contributions from some of Downing’s friends from school and through Royal North Devon Golf Club, raised £2,000 in a matter of days.

Sean Downing celebrates his and Bideford's second goal against Plymouth Argyle in a pre-season friendly in 2019. Picture: Matt SmartSean Downing celebrates his and Bideford's second goal against Plymouth Argyle in a pre-season friendly in 2019. Picture: Matt Smart

The money will go towards any support the primary school teacher may need for his rehabilitation and recovery.

Not only that, Chris and Kate Lock from Atlantic Bay fish and chip shop in Westward Ho!, have committed to donating a static bike for his recovery.

Sean’s younger brother John and cousins Chris and David Brown – who all play for the North Devon Football League side – broke the news over video call.

Chris told the Gazette: “Sean has always trained with us at Park. There’s a big family connection at the club and a lot of friends from school.

Sean Downing in action for Bideford against Cirencester Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartSean Downing in action for Bideford against Cirencester Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

“The aim is that he will have everything he needs in terms of rehab. Money for adaptations, exercise – anything like that will hopefully be covered – and when his NHS physiotherapy starts to diminish he will have money for private treatment.”

“It was just to make sure he didn’t have any worries. Just to show that people are behind him.

“He’s always amenable and chatty and positive and that comes back around.”

Sean told the Gazette: “It’s a bit overwhelming to be honest. I’m not sure any of what’s happened over the last two weeks has fully sunk in but knowing I have such amazing support from friends and family is what’s keeping me positive all the time.

“What they’ve done for me will no doubt speed up and improve the recovery I make.

“I will never be able to truly express how grateful I am.”

Downing said he hopes to make a full recovery and be back playing football ‘sooner rather than later’.

He has started a blog about his experience, which you can read here.