A CHARITY fundraiser will take place on Saturday in memory of a Newport teacher and rugby player who died at the weekend aged just 29.
Thomas Groombridge, of High Cross, was told only three weeks ago that a cancerous tumour on his spine had spread to his brain.
He was scheduled to start further treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre on Monday, but died at the Royal Gwent Hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning, surrounded by his two sisters, Julia and Sarah, his brother Andrew, and his mother, Avril.
It was in October 2011 when Mr Groombridge, known to most of his friends as Tom, was preparing to go on to the rugby pitch for Rogerstone RFC when he thought something might be wrong with his bladder.
He eventually played the whole match but decided to get himself checked out by a doctor the following day where a benign tumour, the size of a pea, was found on the bottom of his spine.
He had found work at Abertillery Primary School in September 2011, but just months later had to stop due to the discovery of the tumour, which doctors said could have been there since birth. He had intended to return to his job as a teacher on a full-time basis in September.
Tom, who also had a keen interest in clay pigeon and live shooting, attended Rougemont School in Newport before going on to study at Oxford Brookes University for three years, and later travelling the world where he visited America, Australia and Canada on more than one occasion.
He worked for Barclays Bank in Newport but eventually decided to go into teaching so attended a primary school teaching course at Cardiff Metropolitan University, formerly known as UWIC.
His close friend, Ryan Oliver, 27, had asked Tom to be best man at his wedding next year. He said: “People say he was a gentleman, and he was. People used to call him Prince William because he was well-spoken and so well-mannered.
“Parents at the school got on well with him even though he was only there for a few weeks. It’s a massive shock.”
Rogerstone host New Panteg on Saturday where there will be a remembrance for him prior to kick-off, before a fundraising memorial night at the rugby club later in the evening.
Tom spent a few months in rehabilitation at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff, which specialises in spinal injuries, where he remained up until Christmas.
Mr Oliver, of Bassaleg, added: “Rookwood and Velindre were brilliant with Tom. Rookwood gave him his independence back because they taught him how to look after himself and got his strength back up. By the end of his time there, he didn’t want to leave.”
Some of the money raised on Saturday will go to Rookwood, as well as Velindre Cancer Centre.