Two high profile England rugby stars have lent their support to a fundraising challenge which was started by a local children’s rugby team to say thank you to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust for saving their coach’s life.

World-cup winning former rugby union footballer Kyran Bracken (pictured) and Tamara Taylor, who captained England in the 2015 Women’s Six Nations Championship, shared a video of themselves completing 30 burpees as part of a 30×30 burpees challenge throughout the month of June.

It was started by Tonbridge Juddians U14’s Rugby Team as a way of giving back to the medical staff that cared for Specialist Forwards and Scrum Coach Nigel Pooley after he suffered a stroke.

The father of two, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, had only been coaching the team for four weeks when he was admitted to Maidstone Hospital on Tuesday 5 May.

Nigel, who was hospitalised for a total of 16 days, said: “The care I received from all of the staff at Maidstone Hospital was fantastic, but the Physiotherapy Team was utterly exemplary.

“After only coaching the Tonbridge Juddians’ boys for a short period of time prior to my stroke it was extremely moving to hear that they had taken my illness to heart and undertaken this brilliant fundraising initiative in aid of the Trust so they could turn what happened to me into a positive.”

Other well-known names from the rugby world who sent messages of support to the team for starting the challenge include Ollie Phillips – former English professional rugby union player, Matt Carley – English rugby union referee, and Shane Williams – former Welsh rugby union player.

So far the Tonbridge Juddians U14’s Rugby Team has raised more than £1,550 thanks to the challenge. Collectively they completed more than 25,000 burpees – also known as a ‘squat thrust‘.

The donations will be divided between Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Charitable Fund and the Wooden Spoon Charity – the children’s charity of rugby.

The latter charity, which funds programmes for children and young people who are often unable to play rugby owing to disability and disadvantage, was chosen because Nigel plays rugby competitively for the ‘Wooden Spoon’ Veterans – a team that is made up with players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Donations can still be made to the 30×30 burpees challenge by visiting https://bit.ly/MTWrugby