Ludlow Rugby Club saved by community after former treasurer stole £20,000

The future of a rugby club has been secured after an auction was held to get it back on its feet following the theft of £20,000.

Ludlow Rugby Club saved by community after former treasurer stole £20,000

More than £13,000 has now been raised for Ludlow Rugby Club, which was taken to the brink of financial ruin when treasurer Samantha Rosenberg was found to have been siphoning off funds for her own personal gain.

The money has been raised by supporters who rallied round to stage a promise auction in aid of the club, which president Gerry Acton said had gone a long way to putting right the "black episode" in the 80-year history of the club.

Rosenberg's fraud was discovered in January when a bar manager arrived to open up at the Linney ground before a crucial game with league opponents Tamworth, only to find the clubhouse had been padlocked and the electricity cut off.

It emerged the club owed npower £3,200 and Mr Acton had to pay a bond of £2,000 to have the power reconnected.

Members have been called upon in recent months to loan the club thousands to stop it from going under, so the money from the promise auction on Friday was a welcome relief, Mr Acton said.

He said he was "overwhelmed and delighted" at the generosity of local people.

"This has helped us wipe out a black episode in the club's history," he said.

"We are now once again in a sound financial position and able to look forward to a new season."

Mr Acton, who is also a well-known wildlife artist, produced nine pictures for the auction, all of which sold "extremely well", said club secretary Andy Wright.

"Rugby Club life member Godfrey Bray was the determined bidder who scooped three of Gerry's paintings," Mr Wright said.

"In one night Ludlow Rugby Club managed to replace two thirds of the money stolen by its former treasurer thanks to the generosity of local people.

"More than 90 lots promised by local businesses and individuals raised just over £13,000 as they went under auctioneer Anthony Wood's hammer.

"The lots ranged from days of deer stalking, fishing and shooting to Georgian antique furniture and meals at local restaurants," he added.

Rosenberg was appointed in May 2012 to help put the club on a more professional footing after Ludlow were promoted to the Midlands One West league and it was decided more money was needed for coaching, physio staff and new kit.

Thought to be a professional with good experience with local firms, it turned out there was no evidence she was a qualified accountant.

She is now serving an eight month jail sentence after admitting three counts of fraud and one charge of false accounting at Shrewsbury Crown Court in March.

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