A RUGBY event in the name of a popular North Tyne farmer has made its long-awaited return.

Saturday saw the resumption of the Stay Strong Stu 7's after a Covid-enforced break last year due to government restrictions.

The annual event was started in memory of Wark farmer Stu Ridley who played rugby at Tynedale for many years.

Around 300 players from 22 teams competed in the charity event at Tynedale Park which was sponsored by GSC Grays.

The format saw both social and serious competitions take place.

In the final of the main competition, a Fire & Glow team, made up of Tynedale players and guests, beat DMP7’s 28-7 in a thrilling game.

The plate competition was won by Blaydon while the Jesmond Jackals ran out winners of the social event.

Event organisers gave thanks to referees from Northumberland and Durham Societies and helpers as well as sponsors GSC Grays.

The day saw over £600 raised from donations to the Stay Strong Stu initiative in memory of 25-year-old Stu who died in 2015 from a brain tumour.

The Tynedale RFC season is due to start on September 4 and will coincide with the Tynedale Beer & Cider Festival - also held at Tynedale Park.

The devastating news that Stu was diagnosed with a brain tumour at such a young age struck a cord with people across the globe and lead to an international fundraising campaign which saw well wishes flock in from famous celebrities, such as England rugby head coach Stuart Lancaster, England cricket captain Alistair Cook and actor Jonah Hill.

In total, more than £200,000 has been raised in his memory through various activities and fund-raisers with the money split between charities.

When Stu, of Shitlington Hall, died, his mother Celia said: "He was strong throughout his five month ordeal.

"We are immensely proud of him, he has been an absolute treasure and delight all of his short life.

"We cannot thank everyone enough for all of the support we have received.

"Stu knew he was loved by everyone and that means such a lot."