THE community of Skipton and beyond has wholeheartedly thrown itself behind a fundraiser for a little boy who was struck down with meningococcal meningitis before Christmas.

Seven-year-old Water Street School pupil Luke Mortimer, a keen rugby player at Skipton RFC where his Dad, Adam, is one of the coaches, faces tough challenges in the future after having the lower part of all four of his limbs amputated.

His mother, Christine, and Adam, are keeping a vigil at his bedside in hospital in Sheffield while grandparents are looking after Luke's 10-year-old brother, Harry.

A post on Skipton Rugby Football Club's Facebook page on Tuesday highlighted a crowdfunding initiative which amassed over £21,000 in just over 24 hours since it was posted and has garnered support from the wider rugby family across the country.

The message, posted by John Firth, of Skipton RFC, read: "Luke is one of our budding seven-year-old rugby players, a bundle of joy who even at a young age had embraced life and every day was a happy day.

"His whole family was part of the our rugby club, with Adam coaching many age grade youngsters and Christine, running the children’s rugby kit recycling stall, so that the young boys and girls, always had the right gear to play and train in.

"However, whilst the rest of us were buying and wrapping presents ready for Christmas, their family’s life was turned upside down. On the Dec 13 Luke fell ill with meningococcal meningitis.

"Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial disease which if not treated early is a killer. Luke was rushed to hospital and with the fantastic work of our nurses, doctors and specialist care teams Luke was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital Luke’s and his young life was saved.

"However the disease has taken its toll on his little body. Luke has endured many hours of surgery to remove both hands, left at mid forearm and right just below the elbow, he has also lost both legs at the knee. He has proven he is a fighter, however his life and the life of his mum, dad and his big brother will never be the same.

"Luke and his family will now face many challenges, and to help them with this we will be organising and hosting many fundraising events. We hope that each and everyone of you will support us."

Family friend Sera Brook, who runs the Albion pub, in the town's Otley Street, said the pub was looking at different ways to raise money to help.

"Straightaway we started putting money from tea and coffee sales into a bucket and the girls were putting their tips in there too.

"I've known Adam since I was six. They are a terrific family and this news is tragic. We just want to try and help in any way we can.

"At the moment Christine is staying by Luke's side in hospital while Adam, who is a self-employed builder, is looking after their eldest son, Harry, and taking him to school.

"I know the school has been brilliant."

Sera said people will rally round to help the family and was thrilled the fundraising page had taken off so quickly. An initial target of £5,000 was met quickly and was raised to £15,000 and then £20,000 with money continuing to pour in.

"Skipton rugby club held a match and a raffle and straight away raised over £1,200. People just want to help."

Messages have been left on the club's Facebook page from other rugby clubs around the district and beyond, including Rochdale, Southport, Burnley, Eccles, Doncaster, Bradford, Huddersfield and Littleborough.

Messages of support and encouragement have been left on the site with offers of fundraising support and help.

Anyone wishing to donate to the JustGiving fundraising page can do so at: