A fund set up by Barrow AFC star Brad Barry to help team-mate Lewis Hardcastle surged past its £10,000 target – in just three days.

Bluebirds favourite Barry set up the crowdfunding appeal after Hardcastle was forced to retire at just 22 because of a genetic heart condition.

It has had a huge response as fans, players and others across football have shown their support to Hardcastle.

The fundraising has seen some major donations, including £2,767 from the Bluebirds Trust after record-breaking numbers played the Russ’ Raffle draw.

Money continues to be donated to the fund and Barry has spoken about his wish to help a player he regards as “a brother”.

Speaking on the club’s iFollow service about the news Hardcastle had to retire, Barry said: “It’s one of the worst things you could possible hear.

“Especially when it’s someone like Lewis, who is such a good person to have around.

“It makes you realise how important each day is.

“Lewis was such a good pro who did everything right on and off the pitch.

“He would always have a smile on his face and that’s why he was so good to have around.”

Barry said the response of people to the appeal showed how much interest there was in Barrow and how much affection there was in the community for a player who was such a key part of last season’s historic promotion.

He said of the raffle donation, which followed the sale of more than 5,500 tickets: “It shows how much they really care.”

Barry also said the way people had rallied together at such a time underlined the players’ and team’s determination to win their fight to stay in the EFL.

Hardcastle has expressed his gratitude for the wave of donations and the messages of support he has received since the news of his retirement.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “I want to say a massive thank-you to everyone who has donated. Some of the messages I’ve had have been truly incredible.”

Barrow’s opponents last Saturday, Stevenage, also reached out to Hardcastle by presenting the midfielder with a signed shirt.

The Stevenage players also donated to Barry’s GoFundMe page.

Rob Kelly’s squad, meanwhile, are stepping up preparations for the start of their Easter double-header. The Bluebirds host play-off chasing Newport tomorrow before Monday’s six-pointer against bottom-four rivals Colchester in Essex.

Victory tomorrow would put Barrow six points clear of the bottom two, with second-bottom Southend not in action until Saturday’s home game with Carlisle.